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Updated: May 8, 2023

A journey through depression, during the pandemic by way of abstract art.

It seems that we are asked to respond to a world that is rapidly changing physically, emotionally, and environmentally. Change that is happening faster than many of us can adjust to, cope with or comprehend. As a result, it feels as if every defense we have had against severe mental health disruptions has been left vulnerable. We are being attacked and left without the resources to regulate ourselves.

For Black men, these stressors are pushing us over the edge. Black Men have the highest death rate of any ethnic or racial group. Inferring from the low treatment numbers for males and Blacks--more and more black men are suffering from mental health issues. Black men are left without safe spaces, outlets and qualified professions to speak to about the growing trials and tribulations we face.

Out of Darkness is a collection that follows one Black man’s therapist guided journey through various stages of depression during an uncharacteristically unpredictable and grief-filled year, 2020.

In 2020 we saw political turmoil, senseless killings of unarmed Black men, the deaths

of our cultural icons and a deadly pandemic that left a trail of devastation that has affected everyone. Black men of all ages lost transitional figures who grounded them and offered hope in a society that perpetuates trauma and abuses on them. Many have been pushed to endure in silence in order to not “be weak”, judged harshly, or give into stereotypes.

This exhibit brings forth how Black men can release judgement, fixed-ideas, and comparison to express their struggles and open up to their traumas. It demystifies and honors the darkness felt on the inside during depressive episodes. We are losing our Black men at an alarming rate, we are fighting to exist, to thrive, or simply to just be. We must not only bring to the forefront the lack of safe spaces to express these struggles but also ways to wrestle with them through community and connection.

Healing is in the return. For Black men, this return is to a place where pain can be acknowledged, disappointments expressed, and losses grieved. This exhibit allows a return and opens doors to healing. This raw abstract expression of emotion consists of 12 digital art images printed on 40 x 30 pieces of acrylic glass.

Depression is lonely. Depression is darkness. Depression is wearing a mask. Depression is pressing through. Depression is messy.

This art showcases what it is like to move through and acknowledge all the ways depression can show up in one's life. Art has been my way of navigating through a relationship with depression that manifested as insomnia when I was 14 years old. My insomnia continued into adulthood and peaked 15 years later when I would hit one of the darkest periods in my life, and somehow out of it I ended up learning how to do photo manipulation.

Over the years of therapy, I leaned into this digital hobby which led to graphic design, photography, and eventually painting. At every point of my personal struggle, I found myself leaning into a world of creativity that eventually came to life and grew into me becoming a whole new person.A completely different man that I never imagined myself to be.

I realize that every stage of creative growth was preceded by a bout of depression. The process that I took to overcome these struggles seemed to produce a new creative skill, or a new artistic technique or medium.

This current series is a reflection of the most recent global struggles of 2020 which culminates with me losing my stepfather, the man who raised me, the week before Thanksgiving. The most challenging and dis-regulating experience in my life thus far. I attempted to go through my normal mental health routine of painting, but my hands couldn't stop shaking. I couldn't control it, I couldn't hold a paint brush because I lost control of my hands for weeks, and for some reason, I couldn't see my colors clearly. Everything looked like hues of grey in my sight once I tried to put strokes of color on a canvas.

For two or three months I was struggling to process the emotions without my normal creative outlets. My nightmares came back, in black and white and seemed to be like storm clouds that continuously changed form into whatever was angering, terrifying, or frustrating me over the last year. My therapist and I knew that my healing depended on me getting out what I was seeing in my mind. It took some time, but I realized that since I was in a completely new and unexpected season in my life, my medium of expression may need to pivot equally and as abruptly.

Out of Darkness is a series consisting of 12 digital abstract black and white pieces using the liquify technique to create a controlled composition that resembles an acrylic pour. It is accompanied by a collection titled Into The Mask of DOOM that was inspired by MFDoom that also speaks to the necessity of Black men to hide themselves under a shield of false gladiator bravado to survive and get ahead in America. This micro collection consists of 8 digital photos on metal.

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