Archive for the ‘Art’ Category





The Race


Tracy is a self-taught artist and began painting around 1999. She is bipolar. She would like to say this doesn’t define her, but it does, the same way as being a mother and a wife and a female also define who she is. Tracy was diagnosed as bipolar in her late 30s but can trace it back to her early childhood. It is her persona, what makes her, well, her. Her art is an outlet for her highs and lows, although some of the paintings during her lows are not for display or sale. Please visit Tracy at: Abstract Art Online, and Ecstasy’s Lament.


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I had the privilege of speaking with Michelle Clausius, who works with homeless youth at Covenant House, a non-profit organization that provides security, comfort, and crisis intervention for homeless youth. Covenant House encourages their youth to express themselves through art.

5 Questions for Covenant House

SOS: What is your specific position at Covenant House?

M.C.: Associate Director, Development and Communications

SOS: Do you think homeless youth are more at risk for mental illness that the average young adult? Why or why not?

M.C.: Yes, homeless young people have several factors that increase their risk of mental illness. They are:

– Childhood physical and/or sexual abuse and neglect

– Foster care placement (over half our youth have been in foster care)

– Failure to attach (many of our youth never had meaningful and loving attachments when they were children)

– They are homeless [and thus] more at risk for re-victimization while on the streets

SOS: Do you think that art helps the youth in your program express themselves?

M.C.: Yes, art whether it be photography, illustrations, or writing gives the youth a voice but with the comfort of not always having to express themselves vocally – their art represents them in a way that they may either not be able or want to articulate themselves.

SOS: Without giving away any names or identities, can you think of any specific young adult who found art to be exceptionally therapeutic? What was his/her experience with art?

M.C.: It was therapeutic for the young woman who created the comic that is on our blog.  The therapeutic value works like this:  writing about their mental illness normalizes it in a way, therefore lessening the stigma or shame they may feel about their mental illness.

SOS: And finally, what is the #1 reason that you do what you do?

M.C.: I love telling the stories of our young people – the more people learn about our youth and their struggles, the more likely they are to support our work.

Michelle, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with SOS about the important work that Covenant House does, and the role that art plays in helping homeless youth express themselves!

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By Catherine Gourd

Although Catherine has been labeled by her diagnoses, and was once ashamed of them, she is not anymore. She has accepted that she suffers from mental illness. She has anxiety, depression, and a mixed personality disorder – a mix of borderline personality disorder and dependent personality disorder. Catherine is now 30 years old, and the one unifying thread in her life, besides mental illness, is hope. In her mind, she is a survivor, she is strong, and she believes that there is always hope.

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Sarafin is a Toronto area artist and writer, and a student of sequential illustration.  Although having suffered from psychosis since the year 2006, Sarafin has had a longer history with mental illness, and used to take antidepressant medication for depression, which she has since conquered.  Both conventional and alternative medicine have helped with her healing, as have creativity, spirituality, and eastern & western philosophy.  She anticipates a full recovery.

Sarafin’s ongoing comic series, ‘Asylum Squad’, was started during her year long stay on a psychiatric ward, and continues to be updated.  The comic deals with themes such as schizophrenia (and similar disorders), psychiatric incarceration, drug & pill culture, and spirituality.  Sarafin hopes to someday compile the strips and publish them in book form.  Her comic series can be viewed at http://www.asylumsquad.com, and is also being serialized at http://www.mentalhelp.net

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Door Panels

The door panels are created around batik art panels by the Indonesian artist Ciptoning.  I constructed imagery to express my journey inward and my concept of strength for the day.

Leaf Fabric

The leaf fabric was created using deconstructed screen printing and foil.  I include the leaf to tell the part of my story that includes getting play clothes and belonging to a group of fiber artists who encourage one another to grow.

Carolina Warner has struggled with mental health issues most of her life.  It wasn’t until early adulthood that she sought treatment.  It took many years to get a Bipolar II diagnosis and medication that included mood stabilizers along with antidepressants. She feels she has been fortunate to have therapists along the way who could help her grow emotionally.  When symptoms ended her professional work life, she was encouraged to use art to express her feelings and experience.  She was able to stabilize and grow as a quilt artist.  Although she may or may not return to a full-time work life, art will always be part of her journey.

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Birth of PTSD


By Jodi Kluchar

Jodi Kluchar lives in Ohio with her son and daughter. After the birth of her son, she experienced nightmares and flashbacks of his emergency cesarean delivery, but didn’t tell anyone. She was extremely depressed and suicidal for about a year. When she found out she was pregnant with her daughter, she began to have panic attacks and became very suicidal. That was when she finally sought help. Jodi has been on medications and in counseling ever since. Although she doesn’t feel like she will ever be completely ‘cured’, she tries to live in the moment. Now, when she peers into the looking glass, she likes what she sees.

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By Lynne Taetzsch

Although Lynne wasn’t diagnosed with bipolar disorder until her late 40s, she knew well before that things were not right.  Having severe insomnia and depression as a teenager, she told her mother she needed to see a psychiatrist.  Her mother made her a cup of tea instead.

For Lynne, a life of making art and writing has been a saving factor.  Being able to express her feelings and to transform them into something beautiful has made it all worthwhile.

Lynne has lived throughout the US,  and now resides in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York State. She’s had many jobs, and through most of them, she kept painting. Since the spring of 2000, she’s been painting full time in her studio in Ithaca, New York.

In 2000 Lynne moved her 93-year-old father and 92-year-old ex-mother-in-law to an assisted living facility near her and became their primary caregiver.  That adventure led to the writing of Lynne’s latest book, The Bipolar Dementia Art Chronicles.  Lynne has a website, ARTBYLT.COM and regularly updates an art blog with her art and thoughts.

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