(carrie fisher, theodore roosevelt, mark twain, patty duke, kristen hersh, abbie hoffman, vivien leigh, jimi hendrix)
My BFA thesis at the University of Illinois at Chicago was a series of celebrated people with bipolar disorder.
The 15”x15”x3” white canvases are portraits of prominent people with bipolar disorder. The canvases are at times, imperfect and cock-eyed alluding to the askew feelings caused by the disorder. The corners are also stretched around the frame with one flap on each side, representing the cyclical nature of bipolar disorder. Each portrait is painted to completeness that acts more as a “signifier”. The painting is complete when it looks or feels finished, as opposed to having a predetermined destination to arrive at, using intuitive action rather than a purposeful one.
There is a certain stigma attached to persons having bipolar disorder. The people in these portraits are not widely publicized as having this illness, which is in part why they have been chosen. While it may appear an invasive and even an aggressive gesture for me to have “outed” them, this information was obtained from the internet, making it public property. The purpose behind these paintings is not completely unselfish. One aspect of identity I struggle with is deciphering between what should be revealed and what should be kept censored. Revealing this aspect of myself and those represented, admired and seen as cultural models, makes it more difficult to stigmatize the characteristic that we all have in common.