Friday, February 16, 2007
By Dan Haugen
Downtown Journal, October 2006
A series of portraits show them as individuals, but who are they collectively?
Identity will be the theme of a discussion this month at the Stevens Square Center for the Arts, which is hosting a show by artists with mental illness.
“Peers” features portraits done in prints, collage, oil paintings and other styles by members of the ArtWorks program at Spectrum Community Mental Health.
What links the contributors, who range in experience from self-taught beginners to artists with master’s degrees in painting, is their mental illness, but should it?
Amy Rice, visual arts coordinator at the health center, said how mental health relates to their art is an ongoing conversation, one that will be explored at the forum.“I think especially among we artists there’s a tendency to label,” Rice said. “But sometimes, there’s this sense that that’s not all we are. We are artists first.”
Questions that come up include when and why it’s appropriate for artists to disclose their mental health status while applying for art shows.
The forum, on Thursday, Oct. 19, will address those issues, and include a conversation about various identity art, including all-women, gay or lesbian, or ethnic shows.
“We’re not opposed to disability-themed shows. We’re just asking, why do we need that?” Rice said.
Identity-themed shows can spotlight work that might be overlooked in the larger mainstream theme, but is there a point where labels are no longer needed?