CONFLICT: This series began as an exercise to express my own anxieties and comment on their effects on myself and the way I perceive the world around me.
CREATIVE SOLUTION: I created artwork to visually express my feelings, and work through them. As a poet, even my visual ideas are framed in verse, so it was natural to include a line or title to encapsulate the symbolism of many of the pieces.
RESOLUTION: The art helped me identify the areas of my own life that needed balance and opened avenues for others to discuss their own mental health challenges.
There are a few recurring symbols in the series, and this is what I think they mean (as of now):
1. The Eye:
The eye is the window to the soul, so this represents humanity, or me.
2. The Hand holding the dot:
In most of these designs, the hand is reaching down to grasp the dot. This represents God, or a spiritual aspect.
The teeth represent anxiety or the problems of life and how they affect us.
4. Scales or Armor:
The armor represents my tendency to go into self-preservation mode, but there’s usually an open spot to get in and out.
That’s Going To Leave A Mark
The figure is of a dancer, speaking to the fluid nature of life, the cadence and rhythms that we follow. The world around him has left its mark on his psyche, the anxieties and problems patterned on him. His effort is to dance, in spite of the swirl. The final piece speaks to the recognition that we don’t fail if we can’t control the world around us, but only if, and when, we don’t control the one within us.
Right: The Shadow Proves the Sunshine
Many of the same symbols continue into this section of the series, contained within a circle. The circle edge is meant to represent how life can seem orderly and constrained, even when inside the boundaries, there is a torrent of anxious activity. The culmination of this is the understanding that anxiety can sometimes be conquered, but more often than not, you just have to look above it.
Fear Pretends to be an Ocean
Recently, I was in an airport in Chicago. I was wearing a blue wool knit shirt, not even thinking about the text and image. A stewardess passing through security at the same time asked me what my shirt meant. I told her the design was from a series called “We’re All A Little Anxious” and it represents how my own fears and anxieties, at the time, sometimes felt as deep and powerful as an ocean, and though the feeling is real, it’s not always true. She said she struggled with overwhelming anxiety herself, and was encouraged by the message. You never know who may be working through their own mental health issues.
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These images were the seed of this exhibit. The eye and the teeth, the person and his issues, intertwined into the problem and the proclamation.