What Mental Illness Feels Like—Images & Stories


Barb Kellogg created “What Mental Illness Feels Like—Images & Stories”, a photography project inspired by conversations with a friend who battled depression. The result of those conversations was a better understanding, not of the text book definition of the illness, but of how it actually felt to him in terms Barb could relate to. This experience eventually made her wonder how she, as a photographer, could translate mental illness so that people without it could visually see how it feels, and hopefully relate in some way. After interviewing people living with mental illness, Barb created visual analogy photographs for each person based on their conversations about what their mental illness felt like. The exhibit also includes short stories and portraits of each person Barb interviewed. The goal of “What Mental Illness Feels Like” is to create understanding of mental illness, decrease stigma, and, ultimately, to humanize it.


This project was stewing in my head for several years before it started in the spring of 2017. It wasn't until a friend who knew a friend introduced me to Sue, then the program manager of Catholic Charities Hope Community Support in St. Cloud, Minnesota. She had been looking for a photographer to work on something mental health related. We were the perfect match! And I can't thank the clients and staff enough of Hope, as without them, this project would not be what it is today. Everyone was 110% behind me and my efforts. (Many of their clients are a part of this project.) I still can't believe that so many people were interested in being interviewed and photographed. I honestly don't think I'd be as candid if the roles were reversed.

Partial funding of this activity is made possible through a grant from the Central Minnesota Arts Board, thanks to funds provided by The McKnight Foundation.

Exhibit Location

  • May 2nd — 26th, 2018: Gallery St. Germain, 912 West St. Germain, St Cloud, MN. (Across from The Paramount.)
  • OPENING RECEPTION, Thursday May 3rd, 6 to 8pm.
  • Regular Gallery Hours: Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays—11 to 5pm, Saturdays 10 to 2pm.

What's Next?

Once the exhibit is hung at Gallery St Germain in St Cloud, Minnesota, and the digital version is on my website, I'm not sure. I don't know what kind of reactions to or interest in the project I'll get. I also don't know if other organizations (mental health, schools, galleries, etc) will want to display all or part of my exhibit. Contact me if you're interested or have questions.

I continue to gather interviews beyond what I need for the exhibit, with the possibility of turning this into a book within a year or two. If you've been living with a mental illness and want to share your story through an interview with me, please contact me.

The online version of the project

Available to view after 5/4/18. The link will be here, as well as in the header links on my website.

To Shop Visual Analogy Photographs

Photographs will be available in my online shop starting May 1st, 2018 - part of the proceeds will benefit Catholic Charities Hope Community Support Program in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Additionally the visual analogy photographs as part of the exhibit at Gallery St. Germain will also be for sale, with a portion of proceeds being divided between and Hope Community Support and Gallery St. Germain (contractually the gallery receives a commission on each sale).

Press Kit

Press Kit (includes Promotional Flyer, Cover Photo, Project Summary, About photographer Barb Kellogg, Contact Info, etc)