About the Image — "Red for love. And...anger."
I created this image for Richard's story of his continuing journey living with schizoaffective disorder with bipolar. I'm including an excerpt from the interview that will be a part of the exhibit. I was also fortunate to have Richard's wife Monica in the interview; her comments you can be read in the full interview (which will be online after May 4th, and at the exhibit at Gallery St. Germain in St. Cloud, MN).
"A college graduate, married, and by age thirty Richard's life took an unexpected path when he had what was then called a psychotic break. He was hearing and reinterpreting things, like thinking the sound of the refrigerator running meant something, or what a person was saying wasn't what Richard actually heard. Sometimes the meanings were reinterpreted positively; on a bad day, negatively. He was eventually diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder with bipolar. Today, at times, he still struggles. When delusions occur, everything seems as real to him as to you. Imagine the frustration?
...When asked what his mental illness feels like to him, he said, “The color red. Red for love. And red for anger.” There is a duality to his life. And just like red represents two very different emotions, it also serves as an analogy for Richard's experiences."
Creating the Image
I'll often use our garage as a studio because of all the great light that comes in through the open garage door. And as long as I can hide all the normal "garage stuff", you'd never know. The main downside that day was the dogwood was floating around ALL over the place, including landing on my black fabric on the table. I was constantly picking it off so that I'd have less of it to clean up when I imported the image to the computer.
My husband deserves a big shout out. I thought I'd finished photographing, had "torn" everything down. I showed him a few images and he asked "where's the broken vase?" "Oh s#*%", was my response. So I set everything up again, and I re-shot it. The broken vase was part of my concept, but it totally escaped my brain the first time. Having an assistant is so nice, cause they cover your ass! :)
I'll admit that it wasn't easy for me to figure out a conceptual photograph for Richard's response about his mental illness. I had to run a few ideas off of my husband and a few friends, because I wasn't quite getting the visual right for the idea behind both love and anger. Of course the color red was an obvious choice, but I had to photograph something more than just a red wall! So what could be interpreted as both love and anger? And I didn't want the anger portion to be interpreted as only the feeling of hate. Although I do realize there's an overlap between those two emotions, and even my resulting concept and image can be interpreted that way. Which is just fine. (No doubt Richard has felt hate towards his illness.)
Behind the Scenes Image and Time Lapse Video
Buy Art, Support Hope
Photographs such as Red will be available in my online shop starting May 1st, 2018. Part of the proceeds in 2018 will benefit Catholic Charities Hope Community Support Program in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The clients and staff of Hope Community Support Program played a big role in this project.
Visit the Introduction page for more details about this year+ long photography project, "What Mental Illness Feels Like—Images & Stories".
Thank you to Floral Arts in St. Joseph, Minnesota for providing such beautiful flowers, and for being a great collaborator in helping me translate the emotions I wanted to convey into "flower speak".