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Academic Level at Time of Creation
Date of Creation
I have explored a number of ideas and media since starting my journey to become an art educator. One theme that I find myself returning to are issues related to mental illness. This interest derives from my own personal experience as well as those of people in my life who also deal with mental health problems. My exhibition, titled ‘Invisible’, seeks to illustrate the hidden aspects of mental illness.
I have chosen to use furniture as the main structures within my show because of the implication of human form, even in the absence of people. Furniture can be individualized and even act as a reflection of the owner. Each piece is a representation of a different mental illness and though they are not traditional furniture forms, they are still functional. They utilize color to highlight the individuality of the pieces as well as the people who deal with mental illnesses.
These works give the viewer insight into the daily struggles of someone who deals with mental illness. Creating a different experience with each piece that gives viewers insight into the impact mental illnesses can have. They are constructed in ways that make them interactive both visually and physically.
The differences between the two chairs in ‘Mirrored Opposites’, pulls you into different mindsets. While ‘Restricted’ makes you feel anxious when approached and frustrated as you interact with it, trying to reach the top. The use of contrasting colors and materials to form ‘Trigger’ brings the viewer into a state of unease and when interacted with you get consumed by the form. Each piece reinforces different emotions as the viewer interacts with them forming a better understanding of what it is like to deal with mental illnesses.
Throughout the process of researching for this exhibition, I have drawn inspiration from is Christian Sampson, a photographer who made a photo series depicting the invisible side-effects of mental illness. He also makes visible the normally unseen struggle of coping with mental health issues and how they consume their sufferers. I have also drawn inspiration from Cat Bates, a jewelry maker who hand-braids most of the rope she uses for her jewelry. I have utilized her hand-braiding techniques to create my own rope to use for the hanging installation, Lethal Balance.
Sarah Martin; Rebecca Williams; Danielle Muzina; Mike Martin
My exhibition is completely interactive and each piece will have its own space where viewers can interact with them separately but look at them as a whole. I will have 5 pieces in total; 2 separate chair piece, 1 cabinet, 1 table, and a hanging sculpture. Overall, I want my audience to be able to walk right up to or look at each piece and have a different visual, physical, and emotional experience as they interact with them. My works are meant to give the viewer an insight into what it is like to have and deal with the illnesses each work represents.
I chose woodworking as my medium because of the versatility of the medium and the ability to make connections with viewers through different experiences. Having functional pieces mixed in with sculptural pieces is meant to invite you to interact and inspect them. Each piece represents a different mental illness and through your interactions you get an idea of what it is like to deal with each illness. I hope that by creating a show that is not normally seen, I will invite more people to interact with the pieces and talk about their experiences. My show acts as a conversation starter that helps the general public better understand why mental health is important to know about and understand.
Show contains 3 upholstery chairs, a wooden table, a cherry wood cabinet, and an ash hanging installation with hand-braided rope.
All photos by Talitha Cunningham
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Cunningham, Talitha, "Invisible" (2020). B.F.A. Practicum Exhibition (ART 498). 55.