Friday, April 24, 2009

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of viewing Shepard Fairey's art exhibit in Boston. You know him best for his Obama poster (see below). At the exhibit, I read a letter from President Obama which commended Shepard for his help. Obama encouraged him to continue with his creative efforts. I didn't really know much about Shepard's art but I was blown away. He even uses one of my favorite sayings, "QUESTION EVERYTHING". His work is very political and graphic. He is heavily influenced by Warhol, punk design and communist propaganda (posters). I became very inspired to continue with my mission and to never hold back. Mental illness stigma has yet to be dealt with but it is very necessary if we want to see progress. By the way, this was Shepard's first show after 20 years of work. Being a graphic designer, it is nice to see this type of art is being recognized. Visit this site if you would like to learn more. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I am very happy to announce that my art prints and posters are FINALLY UP FOR SALE!! The proofing process took longer than expected so I apologize for the delay (I am a perfectionist). Payments are handled though the very secure PayPal. I would like to remind everyone that 75% of ALL print sales will be donated to various mental health charities. I am excited to contribute in some way, especially with research. Hopefully we will see new and improved treatments in the future (my hope is for a cure)!

If you have any questions, please let me know. The larger art prints are the closest in size to my original canvas paintings. Very vibrant prints! I have listed framing suggestions with each print. I will include this with each print order as well. Thank you again for your continued support and kind words. I hope my artwork will act as a reminder of how much courage is needed to overcome this illness. Please forward this email to as many people as you can.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A man contacted me soon after my website went live. He was interested in my cause and recently completed his masters in Public Health. He submitted a paper to his dean about an incident that occurred in Nevada among the Anasazi. I hope you have the chance to read his paper below. His paper reminds us of how far we have come with mental health resources and knowledge. However, I think there are shocking similarities between stigma then and now. We owe it to the millions affected by mental illness to educate the public.

Petroglyph Symbols Tell a Story of Public Health
"In Nevada there are many sites where petroglyphs have been carved into stone. Petroglyophs are pictures or symbols that have been etched into stone, often to tell a story. They were created by ancient Native Americans between 300 BC and 1150 AD. Clans of Native Americans known as the Basketmakers and the Anasazi lived in the area during those years, at different times, and are responsible for recording this story of a Public Health tragedy.

The Clan occupied the area of the Virgin and Muddy River Valleys in southeast Nevada. They had at least two base villages, neither of which supplied all their basic requirements and they made yearly migrations between the sites and into the mountains for hunting and seed gathering, as well as for comfort. The higher elevations of the mountains provided cooler temperatures during the summer and the valleys below were warmer during the winter.
Year after year they followed the same routes after establishing where life sustaining water could be found. At a halfway point was an outcropping of rock with depressions worn into places by water and weather in the past. These depressions held water after the rains fell, and in the spring clan members would watch for storms that would fill the depressions as a signal that it was time to begin their migration up the mountain.

They heavily depended on the water in the natural cisterns to quench their thirst and to refill their handmade water containers. A sad tale is recorded in the petroglyphs nearby. 

One man who had an antisocial mental condition which he probably could not control polluted the depressions of water with his own waste. Some of the members of the clan became very sick, and some later died. A leader of the group chastised the man, who they labeled the Evil Man, but he was unwilling or unable to listen.

A mediator was brought in but his attempts to assist the two men in communication were a total failure. The clan members attempted to dispose of the contaminated water so that others could avoid drinking it, but the Evil Man continued to offend them by dousing them with his wastes from higher on the cliff.

Great turmoil resulted. Those who were sick were isolated from the rest, and their discomfort from intestinal disease was recorded. A number of individuals died.

At least two council meetings took place where the problem was assessed and it was determined there was no easy solution. They did not know how to treat the mental condition or how to correct his behavior. They determined that the evil offenses had to be brought to an end, and the only way to do that and save their clan was to “chop off” his life. The Evil Man was bound, hands and feet, and he was placed in a controlled environment. He continued to use verbal threats against the clan members. They took him to a nearby high cliff, and despite the Evil Man’s continued protests, without guilt (as a result of their joint reasoning) threw him over the edge of the cliff. 

The council members talked about how their Spirit God was angered toward the Evil Man, and were sure that their God rendered punishment, in addition to his death.

The clan had to continue their journey without water, and because of this, began one morning early before daybreak. Their trip was slowed by the individuals who were ill, and trail became known as the Ill Trail.

Some of the members of the band of Indians survived, we know, because years later the story was recorded. Then sometime later, the story was re-recorded, with better organization and detail.

This story certainly is a tale of public health. The environmental crisis potentiated by this one man had the capacity to wipe out the entire clan of Native Americans. The leaders recognized this and realized that the man had a mental condition that could not be controlled. They reasoned together and came to the only solution that would give their group a chance of survival.

The petroglyphs that tell this story are fascinating, and can be seen in The Offense of the Evil Man. The information used for this paper comes from The Offense of the Evil Man (and its consequences) by Verl Frehner, published by Rocky Mountain Printing in 2003."

Friday, April 3, 2009

I hate to have to post about these stories but I feel I must. A mother has been charged with stabbing her daughter with a scissors and attempting to strangle her. You can read the rest of the article here. Now, what this woman did to her daughter is unthinkable and truly heartbreaking. However, because I know first hand what mental illness can do to someone who is untreated, I have to discuss the other side of the story. When these stories break, the media has an opportunity to educate the public about mental illness. We could reduce stigma if the public understood why this woman acted in such violence. Instead, news stories amplified the severity of the violence and even provided audio of the incident. Many versions of the story start out by saying that the woman was heard screaming "Die! Die!" in the 911 call. Now, to any reader, of course he/she will think that this woman was capable of this horrific act. Even if we tell the public that the woman had a history of mental illness, they can only reference movie villains or other one sided news stories. Some information led me to beleive that the mother was suffering from a paranoid episode (being chased by a cult). Also, "Johnson has a history of depression and had not been taking her medication, Binder said, adding she does not remember the attack in the laundry room." 

The media will never advertise that less than 5% of those with a mental disorder have a history of violence. There are so many facts kept private from the public. There has to be a way to fight the media on this. I will keep thinking of ways to make a change here because if the public does not understand what caused the attack, then they will continue to view ALL INDIVIDUALS as "psychotic, schizo, crazy monsters" who are merely expendable human beings. We are in desperate need of more discussion. There are too many courageous individuals out there dealing with a very real illness. Lack of education about mental illness is evident in the comments below:  

"Please even if you are a bit on the loony side you know it is wrong to stab and try to kill your child. People who hurt defenseless innocent children are the worst to me. I hope she rots in hell." 

"If you're stabbing and attempting to murder your child, you're a nutter."  

"Rotten!!!!! 100 of the same to the mother!!!!!"

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Well, for two reasons. It is mental health month and I will be showing my artwork at two galleries Syracuse, NY. I am extra excited because I grew up in Syracuse and my brother lives there. He is in a state hospital but I hope he is well enough to come by the exhibit. My anti-stigma video documentary will be shown for the first time during the first show so I am very happy to hear what people think.
I will finally have prints of my artwork/posters available for sale. 75% of all print sales will be donated to charity. So, if you know anyone who lives in the Syracuse area, please let them know about the shows. Email me for details.