Insider comes out : an artist's inquiry and narrative about the relationship of art and mental health
Spence, Richelle & Gwinner, Karleen (2014) Insider comes out : an artist's inquiry and narrative about the relationship of art and mental health. Arts & Health: An International Journal for Research, Policy and Practice, 6(3), pp. 254-265.
Through an account of prevailing experiences of art and mental illness, this paper aims to raise awareness, open dialogue and create agency about art created by people with experience of mental illness.
This paper draws on personal narrative and inquiry by an artist with mental illness and data collected as part of a larger participatory action research project that investigated understandings of identity, art and mental illness.
An inquiry through art raised awareness and attentiveness to the importance of choice in identity construction and exposed frequent dichotomies in art and mental illness that were negotiated to eschew prescribed social stratification. As an artist, the first author challenged values present in one idea and absent in the other, and the options and concessions available to authorise her own dialogue and agency of being an artist.
Constructing an identity is an important part of being human, the labels that we choose or are chosen for us attribute to our identity. Reflections and recommendations are offered to consider expanded ways of thinking about art and mental illness and the functions that art play in identity construction.
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