Finding Real Medicine

Art by Sara Molano

I was diagnosed Bipolar II in 2009. I was in medication and was giving up to 8 pills a day. My symptoms where not getting better, I honestly feel they got worse. After 3 years of daily and heavy medications like: Litium, Lexapro, Zyprexa, Wellbutrin, lamictal., Seroqual, etc, etc,etc..I tried them all. I quit all medications. (I dont know you will like to share to share this as I know for some people medication helps) But it wasn’t the case for me at all. I start feeling better with natural medicines as I visited the jungle and the shamans in Colombia, yoga, meditation, reiki, dancing to the rhythm of the drums in drum circles, doing crafts, going to sweat lodges and Painting.. This is my real medicine. :)
— Sara Molano

Sara Molano began painting when, at the young age of six, her mother found her doodling on the walls of the house and quickly entered her into art classes. This was in Medellin, Colombia, where Molano was born on December 15, 1975. At 15, Molano moved to Chile's capital, Santiago, and entered the art school Abadia.

She found herself in her first exposition at the Palacio de la Alhambra (Fine Arts) where her work as a young new artist was praised. Her choices then were landscapes using oil, but upon her arrival in Miami Florida three years ago, Molano discovered acrylics and has been using this medium since.

With the use of acrylics, Molano also began to test herself with new techniques. She chose to paint with no relief or shadow, in a flat and static manner lending itself to her new more mature views. Her poster-like portraits of half faces are a representation of Le' humanite, or Molano's own views of the "half being." These half beings are those who are only minimally satisfied; they know themselves only on the surface and do not dare question. These half faces are dedicated to those whose obsession with the ephemeral aspects of their lives, like physical appearance and material gain, mock the reality that this all turns to dust in the end.

These beings, willing to succumb to knives and machines to alter their flesh, harbor frustrations with society, rules and politics and lack sensitivity to life and genuine spirit. Their half faces show clearness, color and feature, but more important are their other halves, which they hide.

Parallel to these paintings of dichotomy exist those of The Queens. The Queens are paintings of grand women some of the cancer survivals, with whom Molano has had the privilege of speaking and admiring. These are women who are free and independent and whose wisdom holds them at a state of perpetual nurturing, exposing their breasts. 

While complex and perhaps even a bit polemic, Molano's style and choices are ever changing and promise to show another side of her which will likely surprise us all.

Read more about Sara on Facebook.

Representations of Anxiety and Depression

Art by Meg Benton

 Fear In America

Fear In America

“Fear In America” is about the anxiety I feel when I watch the news and in general the fear that I felt growing up in America. These anxieties first came into my awareness during September 11th. I was in middle school and I remember the impact of the cycling news reels. What really has struck me as an adult is the culture of terror that is perpetuated by the media. I struggle with anxiety. Exploring the root of some of my anxieties through art helps me to come to terms with my view of the world and it also has the potential to open up conversations about these topics with friends, family and peers.
— M. Benton

Check out more of Megan's art below.

I make art because it helps me give balance to a world I often view as chaotic.  I present visual expression to come to terms with my experience of being overwhelmed by things like; war, poverty, famine, global warming, societal problems, and the radius of fear that Americans experience and the American media propels. I am inspired to make art because I feel that I am creating visual solutions to the universal problems I see.  My art signifies awareness of the world and its connection to my personal journey.  It is a way of spreading information on an intuitive level.  Often times I use portraits to express the presence of worldly problems.  I use human expression and my own journey to convey how people either accept or do not accept these problems.  My ceramic pieces are also an expression of problem solving.  However, unlike my other work, I express solutions in an abstract sense.  Working with clay is a holistic experience for me.  Making art is important to me because it allows me to come to terms with things that would otherwise overwhelm me.  I endeavor to make a positive change with my artwork.

Megan's Website

Reverse Abstraction: Giving Form and Contour to Mental States

Art and a narrative by Michael Johnson

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I remember when I was much younger I loved reading about mythical creatures. I was addicted to reading cryptozoological books, and I filled my sketchbooks cover to cover with depictions of those strange creatures. Yet for all the outlandish and fantastic beasts I read about, my favorite always was the lowly jackalope. Wyverns, sphynxes, the Loch Ness Monster; those were all well and good but I knew that they were just stories and myths, and I knew I would never have a chance of ever actually seeing one in real life. The jackalope, on the other hand had some promise. It seemed just real enough to maybe exist, and the idea of one day stumbling upon one filled me with the same giddy boyish hope one gets when planning out their future career as a firefighting astronaut who also plays professional football on the side. Eventually, as I got older, I of course went through the phase where one has to come to terms with the fact that most of their boyhood dreams would unfortunately remain as such. I learned that fires do not typically occur in space, I learned that astronaut training is prohibitively rigorous and does not leave much time for football practice in the off season. I learned that I wasn't really good at football anyway. And while this childhood disillusionment is perfectly natural, mine seemed to continue unendingly to new lows. I learned that people lie more often than they tell the truth, I learned that pain was a much more common force than pleasure. I learned that my parents hated each other, and that love could have just as well been a creature in one of my books. I learned that the most I could hope for in life was a vague discontentment, although more often then not my life felt like a painful and pointless burden I had to carry around with me forever and ever until I finally got to die. Then one day I learned something which had an unexpected effect on how I viewed everything. I learned that jackalopes were in fact real animals. The one fairy tale creature that I always had a hunch might actually be real turned out to be so. I was right after all. Yes, there are instances where rabbits grow horns or antler-like protrusions from their skulls, and it is because they are afflicted with cottontail papilloma virus, a type of cancer which causes uncontrollable keratinous growths. These growths eventually get so large that they interfere with the rabbits ability to eat, and the rabbit eventually dies a slow, pathetic, malformed death.

All of those saccharine promises that were made to me about life turned out to be thinly veiled cancers. Every conceivable thing about this world that I thought was positive ended up being a disease that results in an agonizing death. Life itself, from the second you come out of the womb, is just a long, drawn out process of dying. And as I grew older and older my life really did feel like a cancerous growth on my skull that was ever increasing in size, and I knew that one day the weight of it would crush my cranium and kill me. Around this time I also discovered I appreciated movies with sad endings. It was in middle school when I first made these connections, and these dismal beliefs have had an unfortunate permanence ever since.

If you can think of your life as a lens of perception, then depression is a film of soot on that lens that distorts and misshapes everything you come into contact with. Everything you see, hear, feel, or think is rendered ugly and pitiful. I have had to look out through these tarnished lenses for quite some time, and one of the few reprieves I have is through painting. The world may be unlovely and inhospitable, but when I'm in front of my canvas then at least for a little while, at least in a small amount of space, I can create something beautiful. It is in this way that I have played the world at it's own game. My subject matter is ugly, just like the rest this existence. My figures are disproportionate; they have odd protrusions erupting from their bodies. My animals are emaciated and sickly. Nearly everything I paint has empty, blind eyes. And just the same I give them saturated, vibrant colors, and I try and make them glow with a chromatic radiance that is in every sense not of this world. I do this because I really want the ugly things to be beautiful too.

Through painting I have, in my mind, closed the gap between the ugly and the beautiful, or between the happy and the sad. I've come to see that they are just two ends of a continuum that eventually wraps around itself and meets again, and the troughs of your deepest lows are a direct reflection of the crests of the soaring highs that are soon to follow. No rain, no rainbows is what I'm saying, essentially. I can see now that life is like one giant sad ending. A sad ending that has been written so elegantly that you are moved to tears at the sheer beauty. And I really like movies with sad endings

Check out more of Michael's work below and visit his site here.

Michael Johnson's artwork finds its home somewhere between the unnerving and the alluring, the decaying and the blossoming, the mythic and the biographical. His works can be seen as self-portraits, collectively making up the mindscapes of his consciousness. The process he uses is that of reverse abstraction: he seeks to flesh out those myriad mental states that accompany the human condition and give them form and contour. Anxieties are given hooves and snouts, sleepless nights are turned into sprawling landscapes, tendons and sinew are surgically connected to thoughts and memories until finally an aesthetic figure is born. In this way Michael is like Courbet, constantly pursuing that “Real Allegory” which can be used to outline his psyche. But to say that he is directly inspired by any artist would be a slight misstep. To Michael everything in life is his muse, whether it come in the form of his 10 month old son's scribbles or Mondrian's 10th composition. He subscribes to no set style nor movement, only holding onto his inspirations long enough for them to pass through his lens of perception before being projected onto his canvases and released.

Healing From a Dysfunctional Southern Family Through Art



Jeanine Wiggins was born in Jacksonville, FL where she lived most of her childhood. 

In 1981, she moved to South Florida where she attended two gifted programs. In 1981 she attended the Center for the Expressive Arts.   The following year, she attended The Performing and Visual Arts Center, which was a very competitive program that evolved into an Arts high school.  She graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelors of Fine Art.  She’s been in several shows over the years and has had two one-person shows, all in Florida. She was also nominated and accepted into Who’s Who of American Women.

Through all of her successes, she suffered from hypo-mania and PTSD, which was not accurately diagnosed until 2010 with her current psychiatrist, who also helped her to get disability.

I can’t handle stress anymore and my memory is horrible. But, the trauma I suffered as a child and young woman may also have created the situation where I hid in my room when not at school and just drew, read and day dreamed with the company of my clock radio. I knew if I could get through high school and go to college, I could escape my insane mother, brother and vindictive, drug addict sister who dropped out of school in the eighth grade because she was doing a lot of drugs, especially Quaaludes. The art programs also saved my life. They kept me in school.

Through my faith in a creator, my artwork and journaling, I’ve been able to move past the fear and anger I felt growing up and then the anger towards myself for stupid choices (like marrying my ex-husband who was abusive in every way, except actually hitting me).

When I truly forgave everyone for everything, I felt a weight lift from my shoulders. I’m much more at peace now. But my fight or flight mode is shot. To much stress sending me into tremors from anxiety. I also spend a lot of time alone, which is also a symptom of PTSD. But also it’s just what an artist does.

I continue to paint and write. My heart still feels heavy sometimes, but I keep trying to move past it. Slowly, I believe I’m making progress.
— J.W.

Visual Reminders of the Human Condition

Art and narratives by Devon Reiffer.

Contemporary society has been conditioned to label the world in black and white terms. Because we are all interconnected, blended, and affected by each other, such simplicity is often unattainable. In one way or another, we can all be viewed as a shade of gray. Regardless of socially constructed labels and physical differences, we are all human.

My work, a series of charcoal and gesso drawings (paintings) on canvas, addresses this broad spectrum of gray. Although I focus on gender, identity, and sexual orientation, my art provokes an honest conversation that evokes empathy and serves as a visual reminder of the human condition. By openly discussing our differences, the similarities begin to surface. Each small change in perspective contributes a step forward to creating a big difference.

twitter- @devonreiffer

IG- devonreiffer

Illustrations of Emotions and Memory

I have dealt with anxiety and depression from a young age. My illustrations have provided me with an outlet to express the emotions and memories that accompany these feelings. I feel that I’ve been able to find a sense of humor in my drawings despite their sometimes dark content.
— Cara Luddy

Cara obtained a B.F.A. in Illustration from Syracuse university and is currently working as a freelance illustrator.   


Learn more about Cara!





Otherness in Society

Art by William Wallace

William Wallace is a Philadelphia-based painter and metal worker. Originally from Seattle, he received his Bachelor of Arts from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. While at Evergreen, Mr. Wallace juggled welding for the campus’ metal shop with academics, created a student-led workshop series and assisted the President’s Diversity Fund in workshop development. After graduation he took to the road, exploring different corners of the U.S. while developing his ideas and techniques as a visual artist.

Mr. Wallace’s work explores how one may view oneself through the lens of “otherness”.  As a queer black artist, he examines the experiences of those who are excluded from society’s narrative of what constitutes a normal or acceptable identity. William has created a distinct contemporary style, mixing his own paints and using found items - such as windows and door frames - as canvas. 

William Wallace has exhibited work in the Toshiro Kaplan Building for Seattle’s Arts Walk, at Phila Moca for their 2014 “ ‘Murica” group exhibition, and at the 3rd Street Gallery in Old City, Philadelphia . He was also a Visual Arts Director for Mastery Charter Schools Summer Institute. 

Check out more of Williams work on Instagram!

Expressing Schizoaffective

Art by Megan Rahm

About Megan

My symptoms started very early in childhood. In fact, for years I believed I could communicate with the dead. I wasn’t diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder until I was 22, but when I did get diagnosed it came as a relief. I couldn’t believe that there was a name for what I was experiencing, and better yet, a way to treat it. Today I take my medications regularly, and I usually only have symptoms when I am feeling stressed. I turned to drawing and painting very early on in my recovery as a form of expression. Now I work on my art on a daily basis. I also work full time for Harbor Behavioral Healthcare in Toledo, OH as a peer support specialist. Helping others with mental health issues has made me feel really connected to my community. 

Check out Megan's work here