Artwork / Everything’s Fine

two coyotes singing rainbows, one with a black hole where her heart should be a black-and-white panda that’s half white-and-black holding a clapperboard upside, art about all-or-nothing thinking figure with a multi-colored column of traffic lights for a head pink woolly mammoth balancing on a ball and holding helium-filled balloons skeleton with a chick on top of its skull holding a paintbrush and contemplating things, mental health illustration by surrealist artist Gwenn Seemel soap bubbles filled with COVID floating over a porcupine, a representation of pandemic anxiety

When a deadly airborne virus whose longterm impact is still TBA has taken over the world, hugging becomes a rarity. People are physically separated by quarantines, lockdowns, and travel bans, but they’re also emotionally separated by ideological boundaries—those who acknowledge science, wear masks, and get vaccinated versus those who don’t.

Amidst all the divisions, art is a necessity on par with air, water, food, shelter, and health care. It’s the love of other humans made tangible across space and time. When a person can’t get a hug from a friend, art is there to make them feel seen and understood. It opens them up to new worlds, helping them to get outside of their own narrow experience, allowing them to become better and more loving.

And that’s even more true when the art is about mental health. With Everything’s Fine, I want to make it clear that I know that everything’s not. I don’t want anyone to think they’re the only one struggling with anxiety, depression, or PTSD.

This series began last fall as biweekly online open studios during which I painted and made space for conversations about mental health. Though the broadcasts are over for now, I’ll continue to create new paintings over the next few months, and the project will eventually become a series of postcards and posters that will be distributed for free via schools, public libraries, and mental health clinics.

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