Short bio, where are you from, what is your background?

I was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I studied biology with a concentration in public health and African-American Studies at Morehouse College. I am a self taught painter.

Tell us about your project that is in the exhibition.

This project came to mind after witnessing it live during a protest in 2020 in New Orleans. At the time I saw it happening I didn’t know how to approach it. I made some mental and emotional notes then started sketching. It was important that as an observer that I shed some light on the stigma and inequities around mental health.

What is your process like when your making work?

I like to work in the mornings when my mind is rested. A lot of my work is inspired by social observations. Once I have an idea I like to sketch it out and think about what elements of the work will represent different ideas.

How does mental health or wellness factor into the creation of your work?

I started painting regularly about 12 years ago to cope with all the unresolved things in life. Art is still very much a part of my mental health maintenance.

How did you begin this project?

I began this project with feelings of helplessness. In that moment as a witness I felt ill equipped to help the struggling individual.

Was the process of creating this project helpful for dealing with the emotion or issue you're describing in your images?

It still feels very unresolved because I know somewhere else in this country it’s still happening.

Has the pandemic shifted the way you approach your work at all?

Absolutely. The early days of isolation in the pandemic were a time of deep introspection which resulted in me painting several images of myself.

Has the stigma around mental health affected your art practice?

I think the stigma is what propelled me into painting. In college I didn’t know how to talk about mental health or who to talk to. Painting became my therapy.

How has stigma affected your life in general?

Stigma has always been a barrier to healing and understanding. Stigma isolates individuals and keeps them having more fulfilling lives.

How do you think Art could help end stigma around mental illness and mental health?

I think the more we discuss it in our work, the more we can normalize our approach to it in our daily lives.

Is there anything else you would like folks viewing your work to know about it or in general? What are your closing thoughts?

It’s ok to feel how you feel. Know that you are not alone in your mental health journey.

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