This past Thursday I had the honor of presenting a piece that I created in response to a story I received through StoryExchange, an organization dedicated to addressing contemporary issues through the sharing of stories and then having artists transform those stories in to art. This particular events theme was mental health and was held at Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art to align with their current Mindful Exhibition. The event included a film, a dance, a violin solo, a spoken word, and my mixed media art which were all presented after the authors read their stories that inspired the works. My piece was in response to a story by Linda Mosby who bravely expressed her experiences with depression, divorce, motherhood, and finding a forever home. The piece is title "I Was the Storm" and is composed of mixed media and collage. The word “was” is a reference to a former state of being. In this case, it references the tumultuous storm of an existence that was the life and mental state of Linda, during a time in which the events of her divorce combined with pre-existing conditions had catalyst her in to a deep state of depression. Ultimately, with only her daughter and a tent in her possession, and no family support, she had to make a choice to both physically and mentally move on to a new home and a new life.
The following text is from my artist talk where I explained the artistic choices and symbolism behind the work:
The first and closest tent to the mother and daughter is being drenched and pounded by rain.
At the beginning of the journey, the depression was at it’s worst.
There was no relief yet from the worries, stress, and doubt.
The past was lurking, the present was still dark, the view of the future was clouded.
As the journey continues from one camping spot to the next, the clouds part a little more each time and the storm progressively clears, but they never fully dissipate, showing that there are still personal battles to be faced after arrival.
While unknown at the time that Virginia Beach would be their forever home, the artwork shows the shape of a home over the Virginia Beach area.
A green line traces the path from New Jersey to Virginia Beach along the upper left side of the piece.
The figures are semi transparent, making them more of one with their surroundings and showing how our experiences with mental health are shaped by both what is already within us and how that mixes with the events, people, or places that surround us.
Despite the doubts and fears, the mother places a guiding hand on her daughter and together they continue to look forward, creating a path towards their future home.
The backpack on the mother is large and emphasized to show the extra burden she has to carry along the way.
Medication bottles are subtly placed within the pocket to remind us of the presence of depression, even when it doesn’t seem immediately noticeable by others.
The skies are filled with layers of collaged papers that make various references to fleeting memories, mothers, home, treatments, calendars, medications, and maps.
These concepts continue to circulate through her mind as she battles the depression and indecisiveness that accompanies it, pushing on in her journey to a better self and better life.