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Chanika

"PhotoVoice gave me the opportunity to share my story of discrimination and stigma. It also gave me the chance to identify with other people’s stories and see the commonalities of our experiences. I am grateful for the support I received to have my voice heard."

 

 

IMPERFECTION
(Beauty)

I am drawn to imperfection, or what goes unnoticed. It reminds me how we are all marked by our experiences that might be invisible to others. Mine includes stigma for my mental difference. My mood swings fluctuate, but I embrace each one — up and down and in between. I see them as a part of me rather than as negative experiences. Each mark of depression, mania, medication, and hospitalization is a revelation of how I learn about my body, mind, and soul.

 

 

INTERRELATE TO COMMUNICATE

Criss
          Cross
I looked above and followed the lines that crossed overhead some running parallel and some crossing to the other side. As I watched how these power lines connect and intersect, I thought of how human beings communicate — body language, words, touch, and eye contact.

Criss
          Cross
You can stand next to someone and never meet when you’re crossing the street. Yet you can also know a friend or colleague and never really know everything about them either. We cannot truly know someone else’s lived experience or feelings.

Criss
          Cross
What allows someone to feel they have the power to make decisions about your life based on their personal concept of normalcy?

 

 

I’M ON MY WAY

I arrived to Columbus, OH from Brooklyn, NY to attend graduate school, but I had a bipolar manic episode that manifested as delusions and paranoia that led me to hospitalization. Then severe debilitating side effects encumbered my ability to walk and talk, slowed my recovery. When I finally was able to participate in my MFA graduate program — I was told that I would not be allowed to continue my enrollment as a result of my behavior. My ability to have distance from my work to actually create was in doubt. This final indignity of questioning my mental competence was the ultimate psychological trauma and the most disabling. However, all of these traumas allowed me to become stronger, self reflect and adhere to my values. This led me to pursue my education with another school in interdisciplinary arts that includes the intersection of disability studies, community, and the arts.