I am honored to be a part of ArtsWorcester's brand spankin' new "project spaces." For this exhibit I created a site specific installation which is meant to look like my studio. The point isn’t to show the best of my work, or the worst. Just everything as it is. I wanted to give the viewer an opportunity to look inside my world. To see what it is like to be a creator living with my condition. Much of society views people like me as dangerous or incapable. I want to change that.

The overwhelming majority of people in art and entertainment industries portray mental illness from the outside. As a result we are almost always confronted with art the further stigmatizes mental illness. The schizophrenic in the movie is almost always portrayed as the serial killer. We are de-huamnized, perpetuating the idea that we are dangerous monsters meant to be numbed and shut away. We live in a world that likes to comfort itself by sorting us into neat little boxes. To quote artist, activist, and educator Ceasar A. Cruz “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”

This art installment brings to life hallucinations, paranoia, sleep disorders, and things experienced during manic states. My goal is to pull the viewer into the mind of someone society would consider a “maniac.” By appealing to different senses through mixed-media, sound, light, images, and texture I give the audience an experience that is raw and honest.

How does one try to put order to chaos? How does a “maniac” collect their thoughts? How to we present ourselves in a way that is absolute when our existence feels so abstract? How do we express ourselves when answering the performative “hi, how are you” with anything other than “fine” feels burdensome? How do we begin? By creating a narrative that is at times uncomfortable but necessary.

I brought this installation to life because I wanted to share not only my experiences with the positive and negative symptoms of my condition but also the complex and painstaking process of trying to understand and cope.

The Dark Conscious

A video created as part of the ArtsWorcester exhibit:

I wanted to show people what it is like to live with hallucinations and I thought, what better way to do that than with Shadow Puppets!?

The themes of exploring the shadow-self and the dark conscious comes from Carl Jung. In one of his dreams he went down a set of stairs (which reminds me of certain spiritual out of body practices) and he explored different 'parts' of himself. Of course he told the dream to Freud who told Jung he had the dream because he wished Freud was his dad or some weird shit. Not everything is about YOU, Freud.

Hallucinations are considered a “positive symptom” associated with psychosis, conditions on the schizophrenia spectrum, and other related mental conditions.

Positive symptoms are things that are added to a person’s experience, such as hallucinations. Negative symptoms are things that are reduced, or are taken away from a person, such as isolating or difficulty speaking.

There are 5 types of hallucinations:

Visual (seeing) I see a cat but there is no cat

Auditory (Hearing) I hear a cat but there is no cat

Tactile (Feeling) I feel a cat brushing up against my leg but there is no cat

Olfactory (Smelling) I smell a cat but there is no cat

Gustatory (Tasting) I’m pretty sure this food was made of or by cats and I can not eat it because it’s contaminated

There you have the five basic cats of hallucination. There are other branches of hallucinations and conditions associated with each. Also worth mentioning are hypnogogic hallucinations, which happen between wakefulness and sleep. Usually these hallucinations occur during sleep paralysis. These types of hallucinations are much more common and do not require the presence of schizophrenia or other psychosis.