"mental illness is NOT black and white"

Originally published on my facebook page, Lori Racicot Art, in March 2015.

[endif]--In January 2015, a dear friend, whose son went off his medication and died by suicide, sent me this e-mail: ![endif]--

“by revealing your own darkness through your art … you yourself become more transparent. Transparency … then … vulnerability … offering up a chance to invite others in leads to … community … community … equals ministry (purpose – my word)

"mental illness is NOT black and white" was inspired by her words

Artist statement:

“You are young, attractive, and smart. Get over it.” I never dreamed I would be sharing this quote - from a doctor, in response to my panic attack. But after experiencing the recent suicide and attempted suicide of friends’ children, and having lived with anxiety for years, I feel driven to speak out though my artwork – to help those who struggle to “Get over it.”

Observing the painting from a distance, the viewer sees four white irises. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s iris paintings, made at the asylum in Saint Remy, France, adopted the iris as a symbol representing courage and hope. Van Gogh wrote,

“… you must know I shouldn’t precisely have chosen madness if there had been another choice…. I am losing the vague dread, the fear of the thing, and little by little I can come to look upon madness as a disease like any other.”

One out of four adults, in the U.S., lives with mental illness. Any one of these four flowers could represent a person struggling with mental illness. Each fragile flower is a little different from the others, unique like every human being. The petals - crackled paint and superimposed with human faces - are delicate, but also serve as a protective barrier to the inside of the flower, much like the protective wall those with mental illness often put up to hide from other’s judgment. Layers and layers of washes and dripping black paint in the background, represent tears shed and the illusion of shadows, where one can hide in silence.

It is my hope and dream that this piece will inspire others to speak out about their experiences, to raise awareness about mental illness, to reach out to those who are struggling, and to realize that mental illness is a disease that one can not just, “Get Over.”

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