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Episode 2 – Art and Mental Health: Can They Co-Exist, or Must They Compete?

In this episode, Bud and Laura have a lively, wide-ranging discussion with Philadelphia artists, Abby Squire and Rosie Carlson about how art and mental health affect one another. Abby and Rosie discuss their process in making art and how this intersects with their mental health.

EPISODE 2 – Art & Mental Health: Can They Co-Exist, or Must They Compete?

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Rosie is a graduate of the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. Her passions include graphic design, painting, and a love of studying women’s historical roles within fermented beverages in early modern Europe. She says, “It’s only recently that I’ve admitted to myself that I need art; that I need to be making it. Valuing my art has allowed me to tackle anxiety and depression like never before because I’ve come to value myself.” Rosie’s website is rosemarycarlsondesign.com.

Abby has been living in the city for the past three years and is continually inspired by all of the creative people who call Philadelphia home. As a teaching artist with The Claymobile, a mobile arts initiative serving low-income students, she has had the opportunity to work within diverse communities throughout the region and share artmaking with students who don’t have access to art programs in the public schools. When not at work, she devotes her time to her own creative pursuits; reading her favorite authors, and exploring every corner of the city on her bicycle. Abby currently resides in her West Philadelphia home with her Golden/Pit Bull, Eloise.

Laura and Bud pose challenging questions to their guests, such as, what is more important, mental health or art, and are the two mutually exclusive? The guests and hosts explore these and other questions while investigating how to incorporate self-care into making art. Struggle is an inherent component of any creative endeavor, just as struggle with issues like anxiety and depression is part-and-parcel of living with mental illness. The hosts and guests offer candid and revealing insights into the intense, rewarding, and challenging life lead by artists, as well as individuals coping with mental health challenges.


RELATED: Mental Health > Art an essay by Laura Farrell


A Spiritual Solution to a Mental Health Crisis

spiritual solution

What to say . . . what to say? This is my story. Part of it, anyhow . . . because how can I tell it all? It’s just revealing itself to me. Slowly. Like an iceberg melting. Like the barriers around my heart, melting.

Last year I wrote about not knowing how to write about my recovery. Next I wrote about my journey with cancer, depression, anxiety, and how the practice of Reiki saved my life.

Time has passed, and now I’m ready to write another chapter of my story. I write it with compassion, knowing that my perspective on life will change as time adds new relationships and emotions and tools to my unfolding life. I hope you find a nucleus of recovery somewhere in my story that ignites a sense of familiarity to your own journey — the desire to survive, to connect, to live.


A Choice

mental health

I don’t really want to share any of this. I feel uncomfortable, weak, vulnerable, and afraid. My mind is like a pendulum swinging from, “I don’t have any problems and it’s a sham to pretend that I’ve struggled with mental health issues,” to, “I’m too crazy and now people are going to know and they won’t like or respect me anymore.” So uncomfortable, so rooted in stigma and fear.

mental health

In the most wonderful TED talk, Brené Brown discusses the concept of vulnerability and how the act of being vulnerable is the cornerstone of human connection and the source of true peace and belonging in this human existence. She explains that in order to experience anything good, we must allow ourselves to experience the challenges too — that we can not selectively anesthetize ourselves to what we classify as the negative — sadness, shame, discomfort — without blocking what we deem to be positive as well, which includes joy, pleasure, and genuine connection with other people.

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marbles byellenforney_header

Marbles is a hilarious and moving graphic memoir about artist Ellen Forney’s diagnosis and recovery journey with bipolar disorder. Even if the diagnosis and recovery processes are not one a reader can directly relate to, the story is also about something grander: a search for clarity and wellness. Ellen aches to be a better human, create important things and find fulfillment.

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