This blog post is the third of a four-part series collaboration between Inspiration Fine Arts & Magnify Wellness.
Written by: Anabella Garcia
Celebrities aren’t exempt from suffering with their mental health — they are human like the rest of us and have their own experiences with mental wellness. Past experiences combined with heightened societal pressures may begin to pile up, catalyzing depression or anxiety. Many celebrities have advocated for ending the stigma surrounding mental illness, including Demi Lovato, Chris Evans, and Ryan Reynolds. However, it is just as important to be advocating for mental wellness.
Mental Wellness is when your mind is in order and functioning in your best interest — you are able to behave and feel in ways that are positive for both your physical and social well-being. One of the best examples of a celebrity who is outspoken about Mental Wellness is Jim Carrey. You may be wondering how someone who starred in Dumb and Dumber and How the Grinch Stole Christmas would have such a firm stance on this topic. Despite these silly, lighthearted acting roles, Jim Carrey has struggled with depression from an early age. In a 2004 interview, Carrey said, “There are peaks, there are valleys, but they’re all kind of carved and smoothed out, and it feels like a low level of despair you live in. Where you’re not getting any answers, but you’re living okay. And you can smile at the office. You know? But it’s a low level of despair?”
Carrey has taken a long hiatus from acting after filming Dumb and Dumber Too, but he has been working on his mental wellness in that time. Carrey has turned to painting and sculpting to express his emotions and find peace in the storm. Carrey has dabbled in art before, but he fully committed himself to it when he needed to “heal a broken heart.” He has found help and hope in his paintings and wishes for others to find the same. Carrey says that his art frees him from regret and worry. Semir Zeki, a professor at University College London, “connects the mere viewing of beautiful paintings with an increase of dopamine and activity in the pleasure center of the brain, resulting in feelings similar to the throes of romantic love.” Carrey is a strong supporter of finding what would improve your personal mental wellness, stating that “we want to show ourselves and have that be accepted. I love being alive and the art is the evidence of that.”
Another celebrity who has spoken about mental wellness is pop singer, Kesha. Kesha has dealt with anxiety and depression throughout her life and has been very open about how she processes her emotions. Kesha has released several chart-climbing songs, such as Tik Tok and Cannibal, and has reached ultra-pop stardom. Still, she is human and has her own tactics for grounding herself. In a personal essay that she wrote about mental health, Kesha says, “Trying to spend all of your time pleasing everyone else is not only exhausting — it’s impossible. And you know what? If you take a little time for yourself, you will actually be much better company for those around you.” Kesha has noted how trying to make the whole world happy has taken away her own happiness. She vouches for spending time with yourself and finding inner peace so that you don’t drown in what the world wants from you. Finding your own personal haven to ground yourself and find peace and hope is an important step in gaining mental wellness.
Fame and stardom in creative fields don’t save you from mental health struggles. In fact, scientists believe that there is a direct correlation between creativity and poor mental health. Many other celebrities have their own bouts with mental wellness and their own methods to find peace and stability. There is a lot to learn from these explorations into what activities ground us and show us the brighter side of life. Whether it’s painting, meditating, journaling, or going for a walk, there are many avenues for us to gain and build mental wellness. Let the paths that these artists have taken serve as a map for our own mental health journeys.
This blog post is the second of a four-part series collaboration between Inspiration Fine Arts & Magnify Wellness.
Written by: Sandhya Maddali and Evelyn Fung
Contributing author/editor: Mikaela Brewer
For as long as art has existed, artists have been using it as a method of self-expression and an outlet for mental health. Research has found a higher prevalence of mental illness among individuals who have pursued a creative career, such as writers, artists, musicians, composers, and those involved with theater, suggesting that people with mental illness may gravitate toward art to express their inner turmoil. Household names in the art world such as Judy Garland, Ludwig van Beethoven, Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allen Poe, Virginia Woolf, and Robert Schumann have suffered from Bipolar Disorder. A study conducted by the Karolinska Institute found that writers have a higher risk of suffering from anxiety, schizophrenia, and substance abuse. They concluded that writers were 121% more likely to be bipolar, as well as 50% more likely to commit suicide. Mental illness also affects creativity and heavily impacts artistic expression, which is often visible in an artist’s work.
A very clear example of this relationship can be seen in the work of Ric Hall and Ron Schmitt, who collaboratively create pastel paintings. A common theme in their work is serious mental illness — themes like hallucinations and delusions, obsession with death, mania, and hopelessness. Edvard Munch’s The Scream, which is one of the world’s most recognizable art pieces, was apparently inspired by an evening walk where the sky began to turn blood red. Munch was trembling with anxiety as he felt an "infinite scream" through nature. Munch also exhibited vulnerability in his self-portraits, wearing little clothes while staring at the audience, revealing himself to viewers of his art with no outer layers. Each of these artists utilized dark colors like black, white, and red, alongside ghastly, dead, or serious expressions in their art. Impressionists like Van Gogh and Munch used several types of swirls as well as the stretching of the body and surroundings.
Many other artists have created art that reflects their struggles with mental illness. Louis Wain was an English illustrator well known for his illustrations of anthropomorphic cats. However, after being diagnosed with Schizophrenia, a disorder that affects not only a person’s way of thinking, but also their behavior, Wain began acting aggressively, and his work reflected a style less and less similar to his initial artworks. His cats, previously smiling and cuddly, became more geometric and colorful. Francisco de Goya, a famous Spanish painter, is speculated to have suffered from Susac Syndrome, a disease that in addition to causing hearing loss and vision, also causes brain and balance difficulty. Attacks of hallucination and delirium were also frequent during the most critical period of the painter’s illness. In his works, de Goya portrayed the gravity of human melancholy through paintings, increasingly depicting human suffering. Finally, we come to Yannoulis Chalepas, a modern Greek sculptor who spent several decades without producing anything, or else destroying his works as soon as he created them. Though his art didn’t necessarily seem influenced by his mental illness, Chalepas’ mother believed that art was responsible for her son’s mental state, so she tried to keep him away from sculpting. Only after her death in 1916 did Chalepas actually return to work. Researchers agree that in this period he began to create sculptures with more freedom and was not as attached to neoclassical ideals.
Art has always been a form of expression — a way of putting one's feelings into a more tangible form. Due to the difficulty in coping with or describing their mental disorders verbally, many find it easier to use art, because art is a freedom, with no logic or bounds. Apart from the more gruesome scenes being depicted, mental illness can also change one’s art style over time into something more abstract and attracts viewers from all backgrounds. Now that we have learned about the breeding grounds of many of these famous artworks, we have hopefully gained more insight into the struggles of the artists themselves and bring those understandings into our daily lives today.
On September 1st 2011, fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson published the first three articles for Rookie Mag, a free online magazine specifically for young girls. The magazine would continue posting articles in this many, three a day by different authors once a day. The articles would vary in nature, some would be playlists, some would be thinkpieces, some would be photo diaries, etcetera. Something they did have in common, however, is they always had the well being of their readers at heart. Whether they were encouraging creativity, giving thoughtful advice, or championing strong women, it was clear that they not only took their audience seriously but respected their intelligence.
One of the things that made Rookie so popular is how they encouraged teen contribution. Not only did they have various places for advice (Ask a Grown, Just Asking, Damn Girl Ya Look Good), but they would publish what readers sent in, whether it be short fiction, essays, comics, or poetry. Other than the readers, though, the writers at Rookie also mostly consisted of teenagers. Tavi herself, after all, was only 15 when she started it. This created an authentic environment that felt as if it was specifically for young people, instead of just some corporate take on youth culture. The age of the columnists, however, did not negatively affect the professionalism of the magazine. A majority of the pieces were well worded, thorough, and always, unfailingly honest. Sometimes the pieces would be brutally so, detailing painful stories and experiences. The unyielding nature of these was never excessive, though, rather making sure they told how they lived through it. After all, the goal is not to shock but empowering kids who may have gone through similar situations.
Because Rookie cared about their readers, they were sure to represent all different cultures and backgrounds. When recommending books, movies, or music, they did not shy away from being inclusive. Likewise, when interviewing specific artists they would always be sure to include people of color, queer folk and people with disabilties. This being said, Rookie’s efforts always paid off. Some of the celebrities they featured included Michelle Zaunher from Japanese Breakfast, Amandla Stenberg, Teagan and Sara, Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Kumail Nanjiani; who all gave excellent advice and insight. Meanwhile, writers like Hunter Schafer, Jamia Wilson, Jenny Zhang, Marie Lodi, Tyler Ford provided a variety of different perspectives . If Tavi Gevison had not made an extra effort to seek out a diverse staff and featured guests, the magazine would have still been good, but would have been far too one sided. Instead, she strove for excellence and it more than paid off.
By respecting different demographics of people and maintaining an accepting atmosphere, they promoted unity and camaraderie. One of the ways that they managed this was their segment “Friend Crush”, where they gave girls the opportunity to talk about how amazing their friends are. They then contact the friends and ask them questions about their friendship with the girl and what it means to them. This segment attracted all manner of friendships, whether it be between sisters, childhood friends, new friends, or even online friends. It was a wholesome way of celebrating different types of bonds and what makes them unique. Though it was just for fun, their small act in celebrating the friendships of women came a long way. By depicting relationships between women as positively rather than negatively, they chose to focus on viewing fellow women as allies rather than competition. Considering the fact that their audience was mostly girls, and society often tries to pit girls against each other, this was and is a refreshing stance for them to take.
Rookie Mag officially shut down in 2017, but it left quite a legacy. It promoted teen power, diversity, and solidarity between women rather than resentment. With the helpful advice, educational articles, fun crafts, vulnerable stories, and fun environment, it was a source of life and light. Best of all, it was absolutely free, making it accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Fortunately, though they are no longer updating it, the site has been archived making the articles still available for viewing. Needless to say, Rookie Mag will continue to be a beacon of hope for teens for years to come.
This blog post is the first of a 4 part series collaboration between Inspiration Fine Arts & Magnify Wellness.
Written by: Melissa Liu, Sandhya Maddali & Mikaela Brewer
Contributing research author: Mahathi Vinapamula
The link between art and mental health has existed for as long as the first creation of art. Though it may not have occurred in controlled settings like the art therapy of today, artistic expression has been an emotional outlet in some capacity for a long time. Some of the most famous art pieces in the world were created as a method of self-directed therapy. For example, Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night is part of a larger collection that was painted when Van Gogh was a patient in the Saint-Paul asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in 1889. The dark colors and forceful, swirling brush strokes in the painting are thought to indicate his inner turmoil. Countless other artists have similarly used art to reckon with difficulties in their lives, and among the most famous are Jean-Michel Basquiat, Edvard Munch, and Louise Bourgeois.
Though art therapy was certainly present before the 1940s, people weren’t necessarily aware of it then. Doctors in the 1940s noticed that patients who suffered from mental illness turned towards drawing and painting to express themselves through long, empty hours in psychiatric wards. These trends led to the development of art therapy as a formal practice. The goal of this practice is to combine art (in any medium) and psychotherapy methods to improve mental well-being. Following the creation of a piece of art, the artist is asked to analyze what they’ve crafted and how it makes them feel. This is a puzzle piece of art therapy called projection, which aims to demystify feelings when they can’t be put into words. Additionally, art is widely used by therapists as a component of psychological exams. Tests like the inkblot or Rorschach test show subjects an abstract blot, and based on their interpretation, the test is thought to be able to identify whether the subject is exhibiting mental illness. The Rorschach test has nearly become obsolete nowadays because tests have shown that it has little to no value in predicting what it aims to. Art therapy does have upside, but it has been researched very little, and therefore its effectiveness is often debated.
Though the literature on art therapy is not abundant, there is ample evidence that drawing is beneficial for mental health. Drawing is thought to help manage stress and emotional expression. Drawing can be an outlet to release negative emotions. It can also guide an understanding of negative emotions, associated with anxiety, depression, and mental pain. Drawing can also induce what’s described as a meditative or flow state, which increases serotonin levels in the brain. Artists are known to have increased levels of grey matter due to drawing. In the brain, grey matter, compared to white matter, contains a higher concentration of neuron cell bodies, which produces the grey color (white matter is less dense). The higher this concentration, the higher the density and strength of connections and signals between neurons. This trend suggests a potential link between drawing and healthy, refined cognitive function. Drawing is an activity that has strong evidence to support its benefit to one’s mental health.
Aside from drawing and painting, other forms of creative expression include coloring, collage work and sculpting, among many others. In various forms, art therapy has been used to treat several instances of severe adulthood stress, trauma, depression, eating disorders, anxiety, childhood behavioral complications, learning disabilities, PTSD and relationship tensions. It is important to note that artwork isn’t a replacement for mental healthcare, although there are likely benefits in building a personalized, safe space of creative fluidity.
It was the fourth grade, and I was talking to my friend about Harry Potter. Though I have mixed feelings about the series nowadays (and negative ones about its creator); back then, it was everything to me. Not only was it exciting, fun, and charmingly written, but it gave me a common bond with my peers. In fact, some of my friendships revolved solely around the series. This was one of those friendships, but I hadn’t realized it. Right now, we were just talking about our favorite characters. However, I was about to make a mistake.
“My favorite character is Luna,” I announced.
“I don’t really like Luna,” she said, wrinkling her nose.
“Why not?” I asked, incredulous.
“She’s just…I dunno..”
I did. She (along with a lot of my other friends), didn’t like Luna because she was weird. The sad part was that I understood. Weird girls are generally less appreciated. She wore weird clothes such as spectrespecs and a lion hat. She spoke in a singsong voice and was always prattling on about nargles and who knows what else. She was, to put it simply, odd. And yet, those were the very reasons I loved her.
Looking back, I can say that Luna was the first character I really fell in love with. In the past, there were characters like Anne Shirley and Ariel (from The Little Mermaid) who my mom would compare me to or say I looked like, but Luna I discovered all by myself. From the first moment I encountered her, to when I saw her come to life in the films, I always found myself intensely moved by her existence as a character. Never before had I seen a character so willing to be herself, despite how others treated her. I was amazed by this, and worshipped her because of it. I remember underlining her lines in the book, and drawing picture after picture of her to put on my wall. I tried to dress like her, and begged my mom for radish earrings like the ones she wore in the series. Though I knew I liked her and wanted to be her, I didn’t really realize that was because she resonated with me. Like me, she believed in mythical creatures and said things that other people dubbed as “weird” or “out there”. Like me, she often experienced alienation and struggled to connect with her peers. Like me, she was the weird girl.
Of course, Luna was not the only weird girl I’d connect to. Soon after Luna came Petra Andalee of the Blue Balliett books and Claudia Kim of The Baby Sitters Club; both of which shared similar struggles as me with school and friendships. There was Lydia Deetz, of Beetlejuice, who I found during my Hot Topic phase. There was Jess Day and Ilana Wexler, who gave the hope that things would get easier after highschool. More helpful still, were women outside of fiction who I related to on the same level. Women like Florence Welch, Tavi Gevinson, Regine Chassagne and Frida Kahlo, who I knew experienced similar struggles when they were my age before becoming famous. They were especially wonderful, because I was able to watch them not only succeed, but be loved and appreciated for their oddities. However, real or fictional, they had one undeniable thing in common; they got me through my adolescence in a way that no one else did.
Reflecting on these women, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for how they helped me. I’m approaching the end of my teens, and as I’m doing so, I’m coming to realize that I don’t really need these women anymore. Because they helped me find myself, I can say that I know who I am and am starting to thrive as my own person. I know without them, I may not have made it this far. Because of Luna, I found the strength to wear bold pieces of clothing. Because of Regine, I knew it was normal to feel trapped in my hometown. Because of Claudia, I was able to recognize that being bad at math was a normal thing for creative people. Because of Petra, I didn’t feel insecure about carrying a notebook everywhere. So as I draw to the end of my childhood, I guess I just would like to say thank you to everyone who helped me get to this point. Thank you to all the authors and writers who made me feel seen in their work. Thank you especially to the real life weird girls who dared to be their true selves. You all made me feel less alone, and I know I’m not the only one. By merely being themselves and going through struggles, they paved the way for not just me but weird girls everywhere. Girls who constantly faced rejection, alienation, and exclusion on a daily basis for the way they dressed and carried themselves. Girls who would try to find acceptance everywhere and sometimes would still have to deal with lack of connection when they did find it. They represented us, and though they are far from perfect, they are the role models that a young girl needs when she feels that she is the only one of her kind.
The recent release of Tiktok star Addison Rae Easterling’s song Obsessed has been a point of contention on the internet since its surprise release a little more than two weeks ago. The song has already garnered tons of popularity - it’s been played over 5 million plays on Spotify and used more than 100,000 times on Tiktok. Easterling was even invited to perform on Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show a few days ago.
The song’s fast popularity is largely due to Easterling’s status as the second most followed person on Tiktok, with more than 79 million followers. Her rise to Tiktok fame began with a viral video of her and her mother Sheri dancing together, and from there, she began amassing followers. She quickly took advantage of her burgeoning platform, dipping her feet into various ventures, including creating music and co-founding her own makeup line, Item Beauty. Many other Tiktokers have done the same, taking advantage of their fame to explore different niches, most of which are normally difficult to break into.
For example, gaining notoriety in the music industry if one is virtually unknown, with no connections, requires an immense amount of passion for music as well as a good amount of talent. Making music as a famous Tiktoker, though, is a whole different story. The unique thing about Tiktokers is their pre-established platform. People like Easterling and Dixie D'amelio already have a very large fan base, so they are guaranteed listeners even before the music is created. This is why the quality of their music doesn’t exactly have to be exceptional. The burden of wowing any listener that may stumble across your music and hooking them in is no longer there because their fame is pretty much a built-in hook already.
As a result of this phenomenon, we get songs like Obsessed or Dixie D'amelio's Be Happy. Both songs have somewhat uninspired lyrics and generic vocals, and though they aren’t unbearable to listen to, they are missing the components that make up a good quality song. Moving into the music industry is difficult, and for that reason, it shouldn’t be done with mediocrity even if one has the resources that Easterling has at her disposal. In my eyes, it is unfair that Easterling, with her absolutely limited music experience is able to perform such an average song on Jimmy Fallon’s show, purely because of her Tiktok fame.
There were other, glaring issues with the show as well. There was a segment where Easterling “teaches” Jimmy Fallon famous Tiktok dances - none of which were even created by her. Most of them were choreographed by Black creators on the app, and all the original creators received was a slight nod in the video description that only shows up if “SHOW MORE” is clicked. A similar issue happened last year when Charli D'amelio received all the credit for Jalaiah Harmon’s Renegade dance.
Here is a list of the talented creators for reference:
Do It Again - tiktok.com/@noahschnapp
Savage Love - tiktok.com/@jazlynebaybee
Corvette Corvette - tiktok.com/@yvnggprince
Laffy Taffy - tiktok.com/@flyboyfu
Savage - tiktok.com/@kekejanjah
Blinding Lights - tiktok.com/@macdaddyz
Up - tiktok.com/@theemyanicole
Fergalicious - tiktok.com/@thegilberttwins
Addison Rae is certainly a great dancer and multitalented, but her debut song is somewhat disappointing.