The Artist: Wellness Story #3
I have been providing wellness services to various facilities for the last four years or so (since 2015), and I am always reminded of one of my experiences at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital, in New Jersey. For confidentiality reasons, I cannot share names or any patient details that could reveal their identity, but I can share some experiential stories.
For a while, at Trenton Psychiatric, there was a woman who had pretty bad anxiety, some seemingly outlandish behavior, and a little bit of extreme emotional and impulse disruptions. She was always sweet to me though, and I never witnessed her displaying such behaviors towards others at the center, but apparently, she had a hard time in the world prior to her arrival at the hospital.
The woman came to several of the groups I was facilitating, including Moon Magick & Manifestation Journaling, and my Sound Bath sessions, and we became friendly and conversational. She identified as a Pagan, and follower of natural magick, and since I am Pagan also, we connected easily.
One day she was in the group and started talking about art, and she said that she was an active artist, so I asked her to show me her work and she did.
All I can say is WOW. Her talents with mediums including paint, pencil, ink, and crayons were simply incredible, and so imaginative. It really blew me away, and from then on I always asked her to show me more each time I would visit. She would do very strange, and dream-like (or nightmare-like) images, often reflecting the weird and grotesque. I can still see this one she made of a rabbit, and it reminded me of something from Alice In Wonderland, or something trippy from Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas.
We kept in touch a little when she got out of the hospital and reintegrated into the “normal” grind of societal flow. We talked about me commissioning her for some album art, but as it turned out, she kind of went off-grid, and I haven’t heard much since. I like to think that she is doing well, creating, and hopefully finding a way to do art as a profession, as she should be, given that her talent was very special and unique.
When I think of this person, it reminds me that you can’t kill the imagination sometimes, even in a place where medicated living is the norm, where the energy is heavy as a result of so many people struggling in life, and where one is confined to a limited space (though of course not like a 1 x 1 prison cell. The grounds of the hospital are fairly large, and there are trees, and other soft features, but… the place is still surrounded by a fence. It’s an interesting contrast; barbed wire and gardens, but not to keep the animals out of the veggies, but to keep the people inside the walls where they are.
Just remember that art can find root ANYWHERE. In an abandoned alleyway, a grim war torn landscape, a garden, or even a psychiatric hospital. Never cease to use the imagination, and let it run free no matter where you are.