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Discovering a Place for Us is a great collaboration that Painted Brain uses to give people a welcoming place to express themselves and their experiences through art. This has become a gift for those involved, to be able to heal and share through the arts. The talented artists who are featured in this piece are Davy Andrek, Nicole Rose Julian, Mooney, Jocelyn Ramirez, Justine Rea, Kareena Rivera, Jenn Scinto, Amaranthia Sepia, Guido, and Tab & Kait.
Dave Leon, a musician and co-founder of Painted Brain, talks about the philosophy and history of the organization. Dave discusses how mental illness could be more accepting in society, and how this would help those who have a mental illness diagnosis, and the contradictions society and life can throw their way. He asks, is something wrong with the mentally ill person, or is it a problem of society not being humanistic enough? The contributions that are given to Painted Brain will only help the cause for individuals and groups of people to openly communicate mental illness.
Mental illness can often be a lonely journey. Artistic expression gives the mentally ill person a way to communicate what they go through, and it isn’t always pretty. The first art video in Discovering a Place for Us is called When OCD Attacks What You Love Most in Life. The piece is written and spoken by Jenn Scinto and improvised through dance movements Tab & Kait.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder, OCD, is something people lightly throw around as an annoyance. It is something so much more – something that isn’t harmless. It’s an insidious disorder that is a painful battle for the person going through it. This is expressed in the beautiful piece that not only discusses the pain of having OCD but also goes into detail about a specific case of the speaker.
In the video, the speaker discusses her fears of losing her dog. Her dog heals her obsession, but the fear of her dog dying has become too anxiety-inducing. She analyzes too much about what would happen if she lost her dog. This affects every aspect of her life. Her obsessions have led her to almost finding comfort with the idea of her dog dying, so she would find some peace from her anxiety. This thought only lasts a moment, because the agonizing aspect of thinking of life without her dog takes over again. This is an ongoing mental battle that’s never easy.
Kareena Rivera does an amazing job in the next artistic piece of expressing her refusal to be a slave to her mental turmoil. She is determined to stay in the present. She reminds herself in an almost poetic voice and movement how she can change herself. She’s in control. She reclaims her life which is something we should all strive for.
The next piece in Discovering a Place for Us talks about an extremely rare disease called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and what it takes away from those inflicted by the disease. It’s rated highest on the pain scale. Complex regional syndrome (CRPS) is a form of chronic pain that usually affects an arm or a leg. The agonizing pain is out of proportion with the severity of the injury.
The picture displayed in the piece shows this pain through a drawing. There is a drawing of two feet, one in intense invisible pain represented with pictures of torture with fire and hammers, the other drawing is a visible representation of a foot looking healthy and fine. This shows the loneliness of the disease because the pain is invisible to others. The speaker of the piece pleas for help and some way to alleviate the pain she has to go through. It’s important to bring more awareness to this rare disease.
The next piece in the film is a poem by Clarityisjustsohip called Caribbean Black Living in White Suburbia. It’s a poem that was written in the 1990s. The speaker in this piece talks about how alone she is being a black person in white suburbia. She wants a better life for her family, away from the ghetto, but is still alone in white suburbia.
This spoken-word essay is expressed in a myriad of ways in this powerful piece. It is accompanied by a dance by Kareena Rivera and music by Davy Andrek. This artistic collaboration is just beautiful and a treat to watch, like all the other collaborations in Discovering a Place for Us.
The next piece shown in Discovering a Place for Us is called My Edges. This piece is about redefining boundaries, self-worth, and finding self-love. The poetry is by Claire Jones. The art is by Claire Jones and Amaranthia Sepia. And the dancer/improviser in this piece is Jocelyn Ramirez. The theme is the empowerment that comes with have self-acceptance and finding one’s “edges”. Realizing how special you are is true freedom.