Mental illness affects us all – some personally, others indirectly. My work is centered around the use of fairytale themes as metaphoric narratives for examining mental illnesses. This series of work explores emotional environments, focusing on two distinct settings: the forest and the sea. For me, these are environments in which I have little personal experience, so they leave me with a sense of unknown. There is also a duality between these environments; they can be both serene and wild. I think that’s why I’m attracted to them.
Both environments resonate with people in different ways. The forest represents an obstacle to surpass or a hardship that must be traversed, but it can also be a place of tranquility. The sea acts in similar ways; it can symbolize a weight that must be overcome but it can also envelop you like a soothing blanket.
The creatures that inhabit these environments play an important role in this series. These creatures can be perceived as either a benevolent and calm presence, or a dangerous, threatening one. The character that appears throughout these drawings acts as a reflection of myself. The play of scale and proportions in my work accentuates one’s vulnerability and represents the overwhelming feelings that can paralyze those who suffer from mental illnesses. Isolation and obsession are also recurring thematic elements that appear within these works.
I was inspired to create this body of work because mental illness has touched my life in many ways. My work is a reflection of my identity, and mental health has been a process of growth in my life. The feeling of being small and vulnerable in a vast, overwhelming world is something I think many people can relate to, and I believe bringing these discussions forward can help break down the stigma around mental health.