Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ruth and the Blue River by Christi Furnas

Ruth and the Blue River
Oil on Canvas
24" x 28"

One artist’s view of Spectrum Artworks

Spectrum Artworks is a community of talented artists with the common experience of being diagnosed with a major mental illness. Art is a form of intelligent, insightful communication. That we come together to fight stigma by communicating in this way shows our strength, understanding and willingness to overcome injustice. To do this we work with courage. It takes courage to be defined as a person living with a major mental illness. We feel that by being open, positive representatives, the definition of the term will change. Eventually more people will live without shame.

Spectrum is more than a drop in center. The organization supports our efforts by providing us with vital services (such as having a nurse on duty during drop-in hours, help with housing assistance, support groups, and social gatherings.) Spectrum Artworks also supplies materials, space, and simply a place to be dignified. Here we are able to inspire one another and work on mastering our craft. By living as artists within this community, we are more easily able to realize our dream of dispelling ignorance and spreading the love of art.

Ruth and the Blue River is blue because…

In painting, as in life there are supposedly rules, and as the saying goes, those rules are made to be broken. Here I break simple rules of a portrait. Ruth’s contours are exaggerated and the blue contrasts that of her actual pink skin. When I do this, it is to be true to the combined feeling of both Ruth and myself, while sparking a stronger response from the viewer. I demand participation from the viewer by evoking their internal dialog. There is a critique that arises on esthetic and meaning. I capture the essence of Ruth by the shape of her face, and the look in her eyes. Her likeness is still as genuine as a photograph. Sometimes fiction tells a truer story.

The river represents the Hudson, which she grew up near. The memory of childhood and the flowing of the river convey a passing of time. The colors in the painting are meant to produce reflection and a feeling of melancholy.

I Never Promised you a Rose Garden by cynTHIA

I Never Promised you a Rose Garden
Watercolor Pencil
20" x 24"

One artist’s view of Spectrum Artworks:

I was terrified to walk into Spectrum the first time because it meant I was admitting that I have a mental illness. It has taken many years and countless hospitalizations for me to acknowledge and accept that I have a mental illness. I graduated from college with a BFA 17 years ago, but due to my mental illness have only been able to complete one or two paintings a year. This past year I experienced several personal crises and psychiatric hospitalizations. In late summer of 2008 my mental health worker introduced me to Spectrum ArtWorks and helped me to prepare for the interview to join the program. Since being accepted, I have done 10 paintings and this is my second show. ArtWorks provides the opportunity to work alongside many talented and expressive artists. I feel inspired and have a willingness to take new risks. I am proud to be part of this group and am grateful for the opportunity to experience personal growth while increasing community awareness. The Spectrum ArtWorks Program, through providing me with workspace, art supplies, supportive staff and creative peers encourages my growth as an individual artist.

I Never Promised you a Rose Garden is blue because:

I Never Promised you a Rose Garden is a piece about the complexity of our relationships. Roses, like people we meet in our lifetime are complex and full of contradictions. The rose, like most of us is beautiful and thorny, simple but intricate, soft yet sturdy. Some relationships grow alongside us while others weave in and out of our lives. In our journeys with the people we love we experience great joy and sadness (the blues)

Coming Out by Brad Parsons

Coming Out
Colored Pencil and Graphite
36" x 32"

One artist’s view of Spectrum Artworks:

I started coming to Spectrum ArtWorks in 2005, after a recent move from small town Kansas. I was timid and shy and had very little self-confidence. The other artists in the program inspired me with their art, but they also began to inspire me in another way. Their commitment to fight stigma, their willingness to be “out” about their mental illness gave me courage and hope. Four years later, I am proud to say I have used my personal talent to make artwork for shows and events to fight the stigma of mental illness, to educate people about homelessness and to raise awareness to issues having to do with employment discrimination against gays. I have become an advocate.
The comradery that exists within the group is therapeutic for me, as well as making me a better artist just by being exposed to all the different styles; we each take inspiration from each other making us all better artists.

Coming Out is blue because:

Coming Out is a self-portrait. I have come out of my shell; I’m getting off the lonely moon and joining the rest of the world. I am pulling myself out of the blues, no… I am skyrocketing myself out of the blues.

Blue with Balloon by Audrey Bernard

Blue with Balloon
Mixed media
9" x 11"

One artist’s view of Spectrum Artworks:

Spectrum ArtWorks takes me out of the dumps and puts me on top of the Lighthouse! I have received assistance with my art endeavors to the extent I never imagined. I have shown my work in galleries throughout the City and last year I made enough money selling art to return home (to Jamaica) to visit my family for the first time in ten years. I also receive assistance with things ranging from doing my taxes to navigating the health care system. I have made life-long friends here, I have discovered my talent, and found my heart in my art.

Blue with Balloon is blue because…

Blue with Balloon is a piece based on one of the photographs I receive regularly from my family in Jamaica. It is of my daughter and my grandson at his kindergarten graduation. I missed all my daughters’ graduations while I was in America working hard to make a better life for her and her siblings. The image brings me joy, the way she is holding his hand, her pride in his accomplishment. The image also makes me sad, because I missed his big day; I am so far away from my family. My art connects me to my heart, to my family. Through the process of making these snap-shots into paintings, I bridge the melancholy distance.

Space Trees by Lynnda Jones

Space Trees
Mixed Media
20" x 20" x 4"

One artist’s view of Spectrum Artworks:

Spectrum ArtWorks has helped me bring out the good things I have inside. It has given me community and friends who understand, who are creative and want to break stigma attached to mental illness. We are all artists in this community who share the same goals.

Space Trees is blue because…

I view things many different ways. There doesn’t seem to be one medium I prefer. With my imagination, I can see things in physical forms. In Space Trees I saw faces and animals in the knots and branches in the wood. The blues represent space, and a point in time.

Blue Moon Dream by Fran Traphagan

Blue Moon Dream
36" x 24"

One artist’s view of Spectrum Artworks

For most of my life making art was difficult because people were not supportive. Spectrum ArtWorks gives me a support system that helps me to be a better artist. Being part of a community of artists who all enjoy art and the process of art making is very enlightening.

Blue Moon Dream is blue because…

Blue Moon Dream developed over a period of months while thinking about dreams and how they are nonsensical and often times whimsical. The blue of the water is calming. Everything in the painting, the animals and the people, are coming from the water. Water, and the color blue, gives us a sense of newness and refreshment.

Untitled by Cecile Bellamy

24" x 20"

One artist’s view of Spectrum Artworks:

Spectrum ArtWorks is the best thing that ever happened to me. To be in regular contact with professional artists, watching them develop their talent, being privy to their progress, has made me take my own art more seriously. In the Spectrum ArtWorks studio, surrounded by friends and artists, for the first time in my life, my mental illness is not a big deal.

Untitled is blue because…

I have a BFA in Fine Arts from The Minneapolis College of Art and design. I am accomplished in realism painting in oils. As an abstract artist I am a beginner, or maybe an intermediate…at any rate it is a challenge for me. Our theme, blue, stemmed from some discussion about the color and it’s association with depression. If depression is blue, then blue is a challenge. I want to take the next step. My challenge in the abstract piece, Untitled, was to communicate the deep melancholy of a turning, turbulent sky, but not too depressing, as I have hope in taking the next step.

The Vineyard- By The Fruit of Your Hands by Faye Buffington-Howell

The Vineyard- By The Fruit of Your Hands
Acrylic on canvas
21" x 17"

One artist’s view of Spectrum Artworks:

The creative process as a whole involves many factors and there are many elements to consider in pursing creative endeavors. Some of these include materials, and consistent time to work. Most important it is essential to receive encouragement and feedback from others. Spectrum is a nurturing environment for working artists but also provides motivation to finish pieces of art in a timely manner. Through the process of creating and in the presence of others self-esteem and self-confidences increase. Having the opportunity to participate in group shows with other artists at Spectrum has kept us from feeling isolated from so called “normal” society.

The Vineyard- By The Fruit of Your Hands is blue because…

This is an allegorical painting, with universal meaning. The woman is regally dressed, a motif used by artists throughout history, particularly in paintings of the Madonna. She is sitting, surrounded by vineyards, which represent prosperity of the spirit. She has an open book, which represents wisdom.

The windows are both open and closed/ both positive and negative, which represents life’s various opportunities.

The man has purposely been left “flat” with little “depth” of paint or character. He has produced no fruit and is not connected to the vine.

Of course, the viewer is free to interpret the painting in any way they wish.

As an artist, I am connected to the vine…to a community that inspires me and nourishes me. The painting may be blue, but because of my connection to other artists, I am not.

Art Truth, Please Recycle by Clarence Reed

Art Truth, Please Recycle
re-mixed on paper
24" x 36"

One artist’s view of Spectrum Artworks:

This is the single greatest program I have ever experienced for helping me with my mental health issues. I learn more & get more help from the people in the group then anything else thus far, although the medication keeps helping more and more.

The Art Truth, Please Recycle is blue because.. . .

I used the idea of "Out of the Blue" as being something random chance maybe. I sort of zoned out and went to work on it. It was like jumping into the ocean and swimming to the bottom. When I got back up to the surface for air this is what I found. I didn’t do any sketching or have any idea what I was going to do for this, in fact the tin squares are from cola cans that THIA had thrown into normal trash and I yelled about how we need to recycle especially since we are artists.

Side Note: Audrey Bernard revealed to me one of her methods for creating her works. I was so happy with the test print I used it for the entire background.

The Blues by Gary Clements

The Blues
Mixed Media
14" x 11"

Rolling Forms by Gary Sivanich

Rolling Forms
24" x 20"

One artist’s view of Spectrum Artworks:

Spectrum ArtWorks gives me the chance to work around other artists. It gives me a chance to see what work other people do, to ask others for feedback on my work.

Rolling Forms is blue because…

Art is my therapy. It helps me to focus on something beside myself. I have always enjoyed abstract art. It gives me a chance to experiment with more with color and lines. The interesting thing about my work is that every piece is different. I leave it for others to let them decide if the painting works for them: texture, balance, and color on color.