Portraits of Hope

Trigger Warning for this collection.

*This statement and art was created before treatment and recovery. I left it as is for others who may be at this stage. Know that a good life is out there for you… life doesn’t have to be this way.

Portraits of Hope 2007-2008

I have just completed the final painting of my series. These images are ones that have plagued my mind until they adorned the paper they now live on. I think of the fragility of the surface and the emotions they encompass just like a human being.The urgency of these works needed to be free; or rather free from me. This journey has left me with little sleep over the last five months, and now I feel I can breathe once again. As I sit here surrounded by my work, they seem to stare back at me questioning, “what have you done to me?” I am now blatantly and callously aware of where I have come from and what I still am. In these works lie the places in my mind where I should never want to go again. Unfortunately, I am all too aware, my illness is neither curable nor is the insatiable desire and compulsive need for the madness diminishing……so I hope. I hope I will find that place that will fill me with contentment, a place of safety and belonging, but for now, that place will live in my passion to paint; create.

This is a collection of self-portraits. I began by struggling with the images in my mind, trying to use other people in my place as models, but when the emotion and truth fell short, I knew I had to use myself. Mental illness has taken a toll on me for most of my life, so I had to put myself in a vulnerable position. I had to stop hiding behind my paintings and tell my story. There is an inspired madness I love and adore; in fact, I am addicted to it. Sadly, the glorious high always wears off, and this is when darkness takes his turn. I often question why was I infected such a cursed gift? Why am I willing to risk my life and happiness just to feel the fleeting moments of grandiose madness? Why do I so ignorantly forget about the Darkness that follows? The destruction he causes? This, the madness, has stolen away so many things I have loved, created moments of unforgivable chaos, and taken pieces of my life away that I will never recover. This is where my paintings were created; take life. These voids I fill with hope, and I draw from them the strength to continue onward.

Mostly, I have hidden my illness, fearing judgement and labeling . The fear of being confronted with questions that I could not answer. I did not want anyone’s pity, but true understanding would that be an impossibility? Why can’t I just take my medication and lead a normal life? Why do I treat the ones I adore the worse? On and on the question circle my mind, all too often without answers. For the first time, I am completely open to what I feel through my paintings. I put my melancholy, my depression, the utter loneliness, the constant cycling thoughts of suicide, the fear of losing my mind, everything I didn’t want anyone to see. These paintings began as my “portraits of my hope,” but I now know this is not just my battle. Everyone paints their own “portraits of hope” either in one’s mind or on canvas.