It’s funny how multiple people can get the same idea at once. When this happens, I take it as a sign that we (the artists) are on track…whatever that means. It feels, to me, like we are tapping in to something that is meant to be, something that is greater than us. Wow! I have never sounded more like a hippy in all my life.
Anyway, back to the story. Photographer, Lance Kenneth Blakney (who I have worked with before and hugely admire), and I sat at READS Coffee Shop talking about collaborations we were working on together and all things art related (gosh I love those caffeine induced talks). During this conversation, one of us (I am not sure who brought it up first) started talking about a photoshoot idea we had in mind that would portray mental illness and how it felt to have mental illness. The other one was like “omg, I have had the same idea!” We also had a similar idea of how we wanted the photos to look, not just the concept.
Since we have an AMAZING resource in Fredericton, whose main goal is to end the stigma surrounding mental illness, we immediately thought to contact Wear Your Label and bring them in on this idea. Lance and I got in touch with Kayley Reed (co-founder of WYL) and she was immediately on board with the idea.
So here is where we are at so far with the project we are calling
Wear Your Label posted a casting call for “role models.” We were looking for people who have suffered from mental illness who are willing to share their story and help end the stigma. Last Friday night, Lance, Kayley, Addie Van Rijn (a WYL intern) and I, met to go over the near 100 APPLICANTS WHO APPLIED!! Thank you so much to everyone who was courageous enough to share their stories.
Addie read us story after story out loud in Kayley’s kitchen. It was super impactful for all of us to hear. Something about reading all of the stories, one after another, really struck me. I still don’t know how to put into words exactly what it was that I felt…but it was meaningful. Sometimes, after Addie read a story, Kayley would quietly thank that person (out loud) by name. Whether it was to herself or to the universe, I am not really sure. Either way it was beautiful and I felt like the applicants were there with us.
I will keep you posted on where we are at with
DEFINE along the way. I encourage you to check out the WYL website and their story in the mean time. ALSO: WE ARE STILL TAKING APPLICATIONS FOR: Schizophrenia, PTSD, and Addictions.
“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all.” – Bill Clinton