Battling mental illness with a paintbrush
A good story from New York's "Village Voice" about how art therapy is helping the mentally ill:
For the opening of this year's art show, Judith Raskin-Rosenthal was determined to make her classroom look like a real gallery. Her room was number 300, so she'd taped a sign on the door: "Gallery 300." She picked out 61 of her students' artworks and hung them on the walls. And she covered one table with a blue tablecloth, then laid out hors d'oeuvres on plastic plates.
The 13 artists in the show are all clients at The Bridge, Inc., a mental-health agency on West 108th Street. They call themselves the Bridge Group Artists. At the show's opening, on the afternoon of October 18, it is easy to pick them out. Each wears a carnation corsage.
Within 10 minutes, 70 people have crowded into the room. "Where are you, Scott?" one man asks.
"I'm over here," Scott Zwiren says, gesturing to three paintings and two drawings. His hope today is to sell at least one of his works.
Scott, 40, needs the money. He receives an SSI check every month, but the bulk of it goes to The Bridge, which provides him with a room, utilities, and most of his meals. Subtract the money needed to buy clothes and other necessities, and he's often left with $3 a day.
This wasn't the future he'd imagined for himself when he was a 16-year-old freshman at Colgate University or later when he studied film at NYU. Back then he aspired to make animated movies and write books. But that was before bipolar disorder derailed his dreams, before he was haunted by suicidal thoughts, before he jumped in front of a No. 2 train and lost his right arm and half his right leg.
Over the years he had to learn to do everything with his left hand, including draw and paint. But the story of his personal struggle is not part of the marketing pitch at this art show. While each of the Bridge Group Artists has a serious mental illness, their diagnoses are not mentioned on the walls. The text beneath each artwork lists only the title and the artist's name.
A tall stranger approaches Scott. "Are you the artist?" he asks. "I just bought this one." He points toward an acrylic painting titled The Coffee Cup, which costs $150.
"It's going to Amsterdam.I'm going to give it to the chairman of our hospital." As it turns out, the buyer works as a psychiatric social worker in the Netherlands and heard about the show from a friend.
The show has been open only 20 minutes, and The Coffee Cup is the first work to sell. Judy walks over and sticks a red dot on the bottom of Scott's painting. He appears stunned; it takes a few moments before he can respond. "I'm blown away," he finally says. "Thank you very much."
Go to Full Story and to see samples of the artwork: Tuesday's With Judy, Battling mental illness with a Paintbrush.
More information: The Bridge, inc.
Posted by szadmin at January 11, 2006 10:02 PM
More Information on Schizophrenia Personal Story
I have just been informed that one of the ways early diognosise is through colour choise. In this instance, yellow and red with green through the centre, in a decorating/artistic way is an indication.
Is this true? or that colour choise is used? or as therapy?
I would very much like to know, I am trying to find out more - and this is a superb website, very informative.
Posted by: kate gallagher at January 25, 2006 05:11 AM
I have just read this article. It was very interesting. I am actually going to go to college in the fall for Art Therapy. I love art and i love to help people. I just am not sure what to do with the art therapy degree. If you have any comments please let me know. I love what you have done. Thank you! Amanda
Posted by: Amanda Monarski at February 3, 2006 07:22 AM
I have just read this amazing article. It was very interesting. I am actually going to go to college in the fall for Art Therapy. I love art and I love to help people. I just am not sure what to do with the art therapy degree. If you have any comments please let me know. I love what you have done. Thank you! Amanda
Posted by: Amanda Monarski at February 3, 2006 07:22 AM
The Bridge Staff and persons in general may want to look into caffeine as a cause of mental illness. After all, caffeine is a psychoactive drug, psychiatric patients ingest a lot of caffeine, and good doctors know that mental illness does not occur without a change in the physical state. See: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1412050006/104-4999071-5460763?v=glance&n=283155
Posted by: Walt at February 9, 2006 08:02 PM
By Christian Peper
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