I make art in order to understand my thought process and brain. Created by analyzing different emotions, mental states and brain anatomy, my pieces are a blend of scientific and anecdotal evidence. I focus on mental illness and make the intangible, tangible through photography, drawing and painting.
Mental disorders like anxiety and depression create a distorted sense of reality colored by emotions. In trying to understand these mental states, I originally shied away from making personal narratives about my own experiences. Instead, I used intellect as the antithesis of emotion to research the neurological underpinnings of mental illness. The work stemming from this research centers around the amygdala, the part of the brain thought to be responsible for anxiety. After learning there are more connections to the amygdala in people with anxiety, I depicted the physical form of the amygdala with an excess of connections to convey to the viewer how overwhelming it can feel when dealing with anxiety disorder.
Throughout this process, I realized how important the perceived experience is to understanding mental illness. Giving more weight to this, I shifted my focus to exploring my own mental consciousness. In this time of personal investigation, I document moments in my life through drawing and painting. I depict calming scenes around me right after sunset when the world feels washed in blue. I let my hand make jagged and frenzied lines when feeling worried or uncomfortable. I carefully draw the folds of my bedsheets after I take long, unnecessary naps while feeling depressed. Often, there is a lack of direct causality for specific episodes of depression or anxiety. I remove backgrounds in my pieces to reflect the lack of context for these feelings, leaving only an artifact of these periods of inner tension.
I share these small moments with the viewer to connect and create a conversation about the varying experiences of mental illness. In this ongoing quest to understand myself, I make work that serves as evidence of my experience.
All content © Michelle Drummy 2019 unless otherwise specified.