My first exhibition was such a success and I couldn't thank you all enough for coming! I have taken great pride in the work that I've done emotionally for this piece to be where it has gotten today. It is my hope that the people who I do not see impacted, will be personally touched and moved to understand that they do not struggle with depression alone. I hope that our society gets to the point where depression is small talk, a conversation starter without labeled judgement, and something that brings a community together.
One of the questions I received various times through out the night; did you have to force yourself to cry for these? My answer to that; absolutely not. Because my depression has been so bad, it is common for me to break down and cry. I challenge my viewer to see the expressions and note that those would be hard expressions to fake.
This set of images is a short snippet of the about 75 from this actual set and 1 of the few hundred I've taken of myself since December. My process starts with the feeling. It was a little difficult to decide that I would mechanically focus on setting up my tripod and camera and let myself feel the emotions at the time. But eventually, I just left my camera on my tripod, and when the moment arose and I was sad... I would photograph them.
This process was extraordinarily difficult -- the more I photographed myself while my depression arose within my outward emotions, the more regular it became to see myself in this way. But this was good. Because it allowed me to break from the bond of feeling brokenness and see the woman I am and what I am capable of.
Secondly, someone asked me if my depression was gone. By no means is it even close, but I don't believe you can entirely heal from depression. What I do believe, is that you can completely change and transpire the way you deal with the depression you have. I believe the perspective and power you give this natural human experience is crucial to how you live with it.
Having the mindset to not let it control your outlook on life is very important in the way you see yourself! Accept the emotions it carries through you, but understand that what you're feeling is natural, and that it will pass. Understand that you have the power to feel the sadness, and you may, but do not let it overwhelm you! Your joys and passions in life are far to precious to let it have that much control.
My dears, take time to be with yourself and love the peace and solitude of your own being. It seems oxymoronic to spend time with yourself, because as individuals when we are sad, we already isolate ourselves. But spend time with yourself doing good things! Go for a walk, get ice cream, pick flowers, do SOMETHING... because how often is it we treat the person inside of us with attention and love.
One final thought. I have debated finding a way to share all of the images I have taken over the past few months, aside from this set in an effort to continue the conversation. This is not my last 'hurrah', this is simply the beginning of bringing to light this topic.
ALSO, if any of you ever want to get coffee and bask in the sunshine with conversation, I would LOVE that! Be vulnerable.
The gallery is public in the Performing Arts Center on the Allendale Campus until April 28th. Feel free to stop by if you feel like seeing the work!
I want to share something personal with you. The images you see attached are a small preview of the large 9 prints that will be exhibited in my senior exhibition. Where do I even begin! I am almost 23, I have struggled with depression nearly my whole life, and I've put myself into some pretty painful moments. Here I am. I have chosen to do my thesis piece on my depression. This has been the largest leap of vulnerability I have ever taken - sharing something so personal with the public. But here's where I've come from verses now.
I used to hide in my room... you know the feeling if you struggle, and if you don't, let me share with you what depression is for me. I used to close the shades, lay stagnate, and dwell. Dwell within the feeling of pain. Because if we think about it, dwelling is actually an easy comfortable thing to do. It requires little to no energy and it can almost put you in a sedate mode; the world is going on around you and you just sit and let the numbness overwhelm you. I might honestly goes as far to bring myself to say I enjoyed it. because it required nothing of me even though I was hurting myself at the same time. I was ignoring the capabilities of what I am and wasting it. I was hurting the little girl that deserves happiness and a life true to what God intended.
Sidenote: Now I'll just say right now, I haven't exactly been on the church train and my faith is a little wobbly, but amongst all of these trials and leaps I've been taking, I do know he exists and I know he has a purpose for each individual.
Back to it: Within the last year and into this year, I started recognizing all of the pain I was putting myself through. From relying on others to fix my pain, to be in charge of encouraging me, to pick me up when I was down... All of this to avoid picking up my own strength weights. Nobody likes weights... nobody likes working out... and emotionally working out? That's like... completely undesirable if it hurts. But I slowly began realizing that if I didn't have the strength to pick myself up, was I really living up to my potential? I know we are taught to be selfless, but I had no regard or consideration for myself! Bad. This was very bad.
This is getting long, so I'll wrap up. I have discovered the pain, but more so the beauty and healing that comes from vulnerability. My Loves, you MUST be vulnerable to heal. Let the world see the authentic and human you that is existing. We are not meant to live with this alone. You absolutely cannot grow if you do not experience pain first. It is the same concept applied to anything we do. We are going to suck at first. Like... you're gonna feel like shit. BUT the emotional muscles you will be building for yourself is your beautiful body saying, "Omg, we're alive! Let's do this! Let's see how far we can go". I believe people are comfortable being stagnate and still; think about all the potential you have though. It's incredible.
This piece has been absolutely incredibly healing for me - and I want it to start a conversation. Nobody wants to talk about how it rips all considered self-being and hope out of the hearts of so many… but as a society, we have attached shame to this natural human experience. If you hide it, how can the people that love you know how to love you the way you need? Do not look at this series and pity me - Look at these images and feel empowered. You are stronger than you think you are and there are more that struggle with depression than you think. Can we share it and be the humans capable of love that we were intended to be?
My Thesis Exhibition, Fractal, will be up from April 17-27th. The reception is on April 19th from 5-8PM at the Performing Arts Center Gallary on Grand Valley State's Campus where you will be able to talk with the artists and their work. It would honor me to see you there!
Here's the link to the facebook event if i've peaked your interest: