This is Red the Siberian Husky. We share the same nickname, so cuddles and photographs were necessary.
For this photo essay project, I photographed a series of objects that connect directly to terms and experiences I encounter on a daily basis while coping with a mental illness. My photographs will talk about the process of accepting depression and learning how to live and move forward while making the best of my life. Depression is a common affliction in society today for many reasons, may it be environmental, internal or inherited. How people acknowledge their mental illness is unique in its own way as everybody has different coping strategies. I want to challenge myself to find new avenues toward healing, coping, and renewal through art and the creative process. Mental health issues cannot be shelved or put on the back burner, so I want to take the opportunity to explore my world in a true holistic sense. In this photo essay, I capture my experience with depression, and the symbols and meanings I connect to. This series of photographs provide a sense of release and awareness, not just for myself, but for others who may connect to what I have to say, whilst finding a beauty in the deep and dark mundane aspects of my life.
Trigger – Anything, as an act or event, that serves as a stimulus and initiates or precipitates a reaction or series of reactions.
Stress – A reaction to a stimulus that disturbs our physical or mental equilibrium.
Anti-Depressants – Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (or SSRIs) are a class of antidepressants prescribed for depression and anxiety disorders. They work by increasing the amount of the neurotransmitter serotonin.
Paranoia– An unfounded or exaggerated distrust of others, sometimes reaching delusional proportions. Paranoid individuals constantly suspect the motives of those around them, and believe that certain individuals, or people in general, are “out to get them.”
Self-Depricating Thoughts – the act of belittling or undervaluing oneself
This is my experience.
Just got back from China and you know what I LOVED it. But I am so jetlagged this post willl be short like a midget, quick like a cheetah and random as… Well as random as all my other posts I guess.
I’ll write about each day and all the perks and smirks and uh… un-perks… (I’m like the protege of Dr. Suess ) included in my travels. I’ll be using friend’s photos and movie clips from the camp so for the next few days not all the photographs on here will be taken by yours truly, but more like a chinese buffet of all my friend’s experiences. Hope you enjoy what is to come!
………… and jeez these Bananas STILL drive me bonkers. Arg!
So this is my family,
A truck driver for a father, a mother who works in an elementary school, and two brothers. I always get asked, would you rather trade in your brothers for a nice set of sisters? A small version of Tina Fey chatters in the back of my mind. (I have comedians in my thoughts, and sometimes black and white 50’s commercial advertisers, you know that crackly deep stereotypical man voice… don’t you?) Anyways back to Tina Fey chattering mindlessly in my brain, “What the hell are we talking about? Brothers aren’t used cars! I think not!”. I have completely enjoyed growing up with two brothers. I am a middle child, stuck between a 19-year-old and a 14-year-old.
* This was last year, at Nick’s graduation. Daniel is now way taller than me btw.*
Having brothers I believe is a godsend, at least having two very different brothers. The older of the two you coud say is a true redneck.A nice redneck though, he doesn’t care much for the city, it’s the small towns and the wild that calls him. His passion for the wildlife and nature is admirable, it has steered him into a career of becoming a conservation officer.I used to cringe at his cowboy boots, belt buckles and his “baby” (his truck). But then I realized; hey it’s what makes Nick, well… Nick.
*Nick before he went and picked up his prom date, our dog growled and barked at him because he didn’t recognize Nick without his everyday uniform: jeans and a tee-shirt*
I’d rather have an old school gentleman for a brother then a druggie, and I never had to worry about him burning my Barbie dolls and ripping their heads off with his teeth. (I feel truly sorry for girls everywhere cursed with awful brothers) The younger of the two a technological marvel, I like to call my big little brother. Why you must ask? He has size 13 feet and is the size of an ox. A gentle ox, for he is the most caring and compassionate little brother money can buy. Oh wait, babies don’t come from the grocery store, anyways you know what I mean. Anyways I am dedicating this post for Nick. My little brother Daniel will get a post of his own.
So when I stumbled up the stairs one early afternoon I was greeted by my big brother dressed in Carharts sitting at the head of the kitchen table. He seemed to be quite content, eating a sandwich stuffed with bacon as well as cheese whiz and god knows what else. I just had to take a few pictures, couldn’t resist.
I’m pretty sure what was going through his mind was a version of “Jeez, my sister is sure wierd…If I ignore her long enough maybe she will go away” Hah. Think again buster, your little sister will keep clicking until she finds a picture that she likes.
I sort of felt like a National Geographic photographer, photographing a wild animal in its habitat. Wanting to take advantage of having something interesting to take photos of I switched to black and white…
Being a big brother and not a professionally trained male model Nick somewhat froze when the camera was on him. I kept saying ” Just act normal, just act normal, keep eating or what ever you’re doing…” Again his thoughts of thinking I was a complete whack job I could see were getting stronger.
This one made me laugh, this is what us siblings love to hear when we are pestering our older brothers. “MMMOOOOOoooooooooooooMMmmmmm Sally is annoyinnngggg meeeeee” My mom is on the phone at this moment, looks over at her children puzzled, and gives us both a look like “really? You’re almost young adults and your still acting like 7 year olds?” I let out a giggle, thinking how I can’t wait to upload these photos to my blog…
I’m not sure whats going through his mind now, maybe some annoyance but also some curiosity?
I soon find out that my camera is not wanted at the kitchen table. Ahh don’t you just love the subtle hints that brothers give?
I protest and say ” One more picture, come on just one…” I try to be original and include the chocolate milk jug in the picture I just thought maybe the angle would look cool. I actually like this one the best to be honest, something about the anonymity, how his hand covers his face. How raw the photo feels. You can see enough of his ball cap, his short hair cut, his carharts to see that it still is my brother. but it hides something as well, it hides the personality of Nick the little things, like how adoringly protective he is of me, or his sense of humor. It makes you wonder about who he really is deep down inside. I can tell he has begun to ignore me, so stop taking photos and begin to review my collection of pictures. I make sure to show him my favorites. Not every picture has made it on to this blog. Some had to be deleted, he insisted. But I admire that he let me take some pictures of him, he very well could have grabbed my camera and got up and left. Or he could have pulled the “big brother is angry” card and scared me off like a deer. But he has learned to tolerate my weird artistic moments. And he sat patiently, like a lion in a cage while the little girl on the outside observed him and learnt a little more about the marvelous creature that he is.
For my mom’s birthday I decided to do a portrait of her from a black and white photograph from her childhood. I had plenty to choose from but one stood out to me. Her expression of childlike happiness and the shadows from the squinting of her eyes added a whole new depth to the photograph. It was almost like she was in the middle of playing outside in the midst of summer, not a cold stingy portrait in an air conditioned studio where her hair is brushed her clothes crisp with a nervous smile that happens when you glance at the photographer you barely know which is curtly telling you to “smile” .
My mom is an amazing example of a human being. She has a story behind her eyes that not many people see or know about. She has her strengths and weaknesses like we all do, but her sheer force to carry on even in the midst of pain and unhappiness is inspiring to me. I wanted to capture that childlike happiness for her. That joyous moment of life when your old enough to experience the world but not yet know the dangers and sadness, that great amount of negativity our world harbors. I just wanted to give her something that really came from the heart. I do not have many talents so the ones that I do seem to have been luckily blessed with, I try to make the most of them. This was my first serious attempt at a pencil portrait of a real person. Sure I’ve done sketches of people before, like in airports or from magazines. But I’ve never been able to really “catch” that certain person’s personality in my drawings. I once before did a portrait of a teacher’s child. I was in elementary school and from what I can remember it seemed like a pretty good representation of the little girl. But this time I wanted it to scream “Cathy” [ my mother’s name].
Drawing is like breathing to me, a second nature you could say. So when I stumbled across that photograph it felt just right to pick up a pencil and start drawing. Living in a small town limits my resources drastically, so I used some poster paper ( the kind you get from the dollar store ) and taped it to a wall in my hallway under good lighting. If this was a perfect world, I’d have used a thick textured paper, something that would blend well etc. etc. etc. But for now, I’ll keep that as just a dream and stick to my dollar store specials. I took pictures during the creation of this portrait just so people could see the different stages of it. I tried really hard to capture the essence of my mother in this drawing, and it was satisfying to see the look on her face when she came home from visiting her parents to find it still in the hallway. It was almost like a gift for myself to see that my gift had touched her so fondly.
With my family’s encouragement I entered “Little Cathy” in the Burns Lake Alternate Arts Festival. The AAF (Alternate Arts Festival) is a oppurtunity for students from Vanderhoof, Burns Lake, Fraser Lake and Fort St. James to exhibit works of art as well as performances, films, and music. I always enjoy going to art shows, I feel somewhat at home at these places surrounded by people like myself. It is very inspiring to see so many people with such creativity and talent. In grade 8 I had won second prize for a Gesso acrylic painting of a dahlia in the junior category with a prize of $100. The past few years my art hasn’t placed as I had usually put “experiments” in the art show. (abstract, graphitti, and other unusual things) but this year I put two works in. A portrait of Lady Gaga, and the portrait of my mother. I wasn’t expecting to place this year, looking around at all the other senior work…I had plenty of competition. I would hate to be cocky, and say my work was the best because that is just not me. There was beautiful creations of work there. More than I remember from the past years. At the end of the festival the awards were given out. I had placed second in the seniors division, it was satisfying to stand up there and receive my prize ($100) it boosted my esteem that the judges had taken an interest in my portrait of my mother in the sea of mesmerizing artwork.
For a few months it was almost like I had put down my pencils for good. It was depressing, I had reached an artist’s version of a writer’s block. It was torture when nothing seemed to come out right. The idea in my head always looked different then what my hands created. I had lost confidence in my skills. So when I say that this birthday gift was a gift for me as well, it was this portrait that had finally ended my “creativity drought”.