Elk Grove Fine Arts Center is so excited to be partnering with The County of Sacramento's "Stop Stigma Speakers Bureau" to bring the Journey of Hope Show to the Center for the month of August. In this show, real life stories of people dealing with mental health issues, will be brought to life through the artistic interpretations of local artists. Four of our Member Artists have chosen to create a art piece inspired by the personal story they were given. Over the next few days, we will be highlighting these artists, as they share their thoughts on the process, including a peek at the art they have created.
JOLENE MATSON: "GIRL INTERRUPTED" - CERAMIC
I enjoy creating art that touches people’s emotions in some way and that expresses my feelings about my subjects. The opportunity presented by Journey of Hope to interpret another person’s thoughts and feelings in coping with mental illness was intriguing to me, and offered me an interesting challenge.
Laura Bemis’ story of going through Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) as a teenager to help alleviate her suicidal behaviors/violent episodes, and the resulting depression is a powerful testament to the horrors people who have experienced mental illness live with and overcome. That she is now an advocate for people with mental illness and is helping them find a voice though her work with Journey of Hope, as well as being an outstanding professional photographer fills me with admiration. Her story is the essence of this show…that there IS hope, that one CAN achieve their dreams, that the struggle IS worthwhile even when it is not easy and straightforward.
The art piece I created to go with her story is titled “Girl, Interrupted.” Laura’s story made me think how it must have felt to a teenage girl having to deal with debilitating depression, and chaotic, suicidal thoughts which led her to cut herself to release the pain, and how the dread of her ECT treatments horrified her, and then left her drained of all emotion. I thought of how alienated she must have felt from other girls her age, and how she might have thought she was an outcast from society…thus the girls’s green hair. The turbulent, stormy skies of her youth, though, are behind her now, and a calmer and brighter future is ahead. It is a graphic piece, trying to capture these feelings in a jig-saw puzzle format to express the different pieces of her life.
I enjoyed doing this piece for the Journey of Hope Show, and for Laura Bemis…to express my sincere admiration for her courage and enduring spirit, and for her willingness to share her story so that others can benefit, and so we can all move forward in shedding the stigma of mental illness.