On Art And Illness…
Let me begin by noting just how much I don’t want to tell you that I’m schizophrenic. It all started when my favorite living artist pulled a stunt that made my stomach turn. They had everything; a devoted fan base, a stable income to support a family from art alone, and a kickass technique that inspired me to let my creep flag fly… And then they made the announcement. One drawing for a different diagnosis, every day, for a month. A lot of people loved it, thousands of likes, press coverage that is still rippling today, and certainly a good chunk of change to boot. Everyone seemed impressed, except for me.
Why would a mentally ill person who is also an artist frown upon such a great awareness?
Stereotypes and invalidation. Maybe it’s overkill for me to be interested in the DSM-V, and to know the difference between disorders and clusters, but to marginalize a massive group of people from a daily trip to Wikipedia… That just doesn’t sit well with me. To compress a life of disorder into a single image requires cyphening off only the most theatric, impersonal symptoms, and removes the complexities that make mental illness such a serious labyrinth to begin with. The common pairing of art and mental illness shows up as a lifetime of work from each individual person who suffers, not a flashy circus parade of the grandest gestures available. You cannot represent people with minimal information on their realities, and turn a profit from it…
Well, apparently, you can. Having said that, I really, really don’t want to tell you that I’m schizophrenic. I don’t want to use my mental seasons to explain the gaps in my art page’s timeline, and I don’t want to use my disadvantages to become a viral thread. In my opinion, the only time mental illness should be used as leverage is to raise funds for the mentally ill, and I am not a foundation, I’m just an artist.
My art is not created from insanity. That’s a heavy misnomer, and I think the difference is crucial. My insanity comes in unpredictable waves, and it flavors my ‘normal days’. It invokes curiosity, a general tolerance for anything out of the norm. It brings about a certain style of logic, awareness of my own needs, self care, self regulation- and in turn an awareness of others. My insanity teaches me that sonder is vital, time is inconsistent, and emotions are liquid.
All in all, I don’t even know for sure if I believe in insanity. Sure, some of us can’t work or fully take care of ourselves, but there are plenty of sane folks out there who can’t be vulnerable, can’t adjust their own stubbornness, can’t satiate their greed, or even accept that lifestyles different from their own may exist in peace. Sanity is a big topic, and I think about it every day, but despite any obstacles, I’m pretty pleased with where I fall on the spectrum.
My art, like my life, is not defined by being insane, but rather by being mindful of what sanity might be, and the relativity of the world to it. My name is Mac, and I am a person who illustrates the contrast of the world around me, not one who exploits the deficiencies in myself.
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