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It was a lovely spring afternoon at Craft in America, an incredible art gallery on 3rd street near the Beverly Center, Saturday, June 3rd 2017. The anticipation was intense but once we started talking, the conversation flowed so naturally it was like water. We talked about why people connect art and mental illness in their minds and responded to the brilliant Louise Bourgeois and her idea that, “Art is Proof of Sanity.” We all agreed and offered our thoughts. We had an incredible audience present who asked some timely questions and all of this was done in the glowing, shimmering presence of Kazuki’s newest work: Catharsis Contained.
The most emotionally resonant part of our conversation had to do not with mental illness and art but the connections between mental illness and drive, the desire and commitment to pushing oneself to produce. All three of us are somewhat obsessively driven in our work and it was my guess that this itself had something to do with our various mental health challenges. Kazuki took this idea in the direction of having a place to put his energy and clarified that when he is experiencing more manic symptoms, his productivity is not actually that productive as it becomes too scattered. He blows glass to manage his mental health. Elyn also uses her work to manage her own psychotic symptoms. Creating structure and intention helps her stay focused, and what focus! For myself, my depression leaves me needing a sense of purpose and direction in the world. Painted Brain keeps me going when I am down because, even though I can’t feel it when depressed, I know intellectually that it is meaningful and is doing good for the world. This allows me to keep working even when depressed. I lose the sense of direct enjoyment or benefit from any actions while depressed but like to keep moving anyway. When I keep working at something important, I also move past the depressive feelings faster. This took me till my 30’s to really learn and internalize.
The event was an incredible success. Stay tuned, we are working to edit the video we shot of the interview and hope to post that publicly in the near future.