We’ve heard a lot about famous artists like Edvard Munch or Vincent van Gogh, but what do you know about our contemporaries, who create despite their illness? So, here 10 people, who have two things in common: art and disorders.

 

Kim Noble

Dissociative Identity Disorder

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Kim Noble

 

Kim Noble is an artist who has been visiting hospital since she was 14-year-old. In 1995 Kim began therapy and was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Kim has 20 main personalities and 14 of them are artists. These 14 artists each have their own distinctive style, colours and themes, ranging from solitary deserts, sea scenes and abstracts to collages and paintings with traumatic content. Many alters are unaware that they share a body with other artists.

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Kim Noble

 

What is remarkable to all is both the quality of their work and the speed of their progress. Within 5 years of starting to paint they have already had seventeen successful solo exhibitions and participated in an equal number of group exhibitions. Kim was also the first Artist in Residence at Springfield University Hospital in Tooting, South West London.

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Kim Noble

 

Faina Lorah

Social phobia

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Faina Lorah

 

As a child, Faina had a dream to make art, hiding in a room and keeping to herself. She didn’t expect creating an art will require permanently being outside of her comfort zone.

“There seems to be an assumption that once you’re at gallery, they will represent your work and you won’t have to do anything else but make the art,” – Faina says. “ I’m sure there are artist out there who have this luxury, but as an emerging artist, less likely that you will have to skip the work. Galleries don’t want to spend their time building up an emerging artist, that’s your job. If you don’t have a gallery that is representing you, then you must work even harder to build your audience so that you can convey to a gallery that you a following and that your art is worth it.”

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Faina Lorah

 

On the one hand, being socially awkward and getting nervous around people can be seen as a weakness, but nice thing is that no one needs to know about it. However, no one knows what Faina feels inside. So, she uses it in her favor: “If you’re able to keep it a secret and pretend you’re happy to be in those awkward social situations, then eventually you can overcome your fears.”

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Faina Lorah

 

Gudrun Hasle

Dyslexia

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Gudrun Hasle

 

Gurdun’ first negative experience because of her disorder relates to school years. “Teachers thought I was lazy rather than dyslexic, and at that time if you were dyslexic you were considered plain stupid,” – Gurdun shares. Teachers gave her books for 6-year-olds when she was 10-12. The pressure became so strong that Gurdun began to injure herself by cutting into her skin. She ended up leaving the school. “I never graduated school, which is very unusual in Denmark.”

Gurdun could overcome it and now dyslexia helps her to create. “I use my dyslexia in everything I do. It’s my technique. It began as an accident.”

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Gudrun Hasle

 

When Gurdun started to attend the Art Academy in Denmark, she painted and added some texts. “I had no time to correct the spelling, so the next day all the other students and professors were trying to read their way through my uncorrected text, and suddenly they were dyslexic,” – the artist remembers. “They were having a hard time reading my words. I thought to myself, hmm, this is a very interesting and effective tool. I turned the whole thing around. But it was a giant leap for me to make this change.” Since this moment, Gurdun never correct anything, but sometimes the wording is correct — by accident.

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Gudrun Hasle

 

Rachel Deane

Dislexia

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Rachel Deane

 

Rachel Deane has found an alternative way to use dyslexia in art. She captures her relationship to dyslexia in her work. “My paintings represent the way I see and process the world, the way I learn information,” – the artist explains. “I learn visually and through narratives rather than by memorization or other standard education practices.”

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Rachel Deane

 

This idea came to Rachel’s mind when she was at retrospective exhibition of  Pierre Bonnard a few years ago. She was so impressed by his use of color and texture, that Rachel could not walk away from the exhibition without purchasing the large catalog. “My Bonnard book protects me visually and emotionally,” – she comments. “I think this example shows the way I think, the way I process. I understand things visually, by finding them in paint. I don’t know if my dyslexia causes me to be this way, but I have a feeling it does.”

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Rachel Deane

 

Ray Caesar

Dissociative Identity Disorder

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Ray Caesar

 

For Caesar his illness was a gift when he was a child. “ It was an excellent way of dealing with things,” – he says. “If you were in a situation and you didn’t like it, you could close your eyes, go off into somewhere else, and say, for now logic and reason makes no sense to have it… I’m in an insane situation, so I will disassociate myself from logic and reason. I will just accept the world is insane. It is a safety.”

Caesar used to like playing with dolls, something that infuriated his father, and though he was left alone to draw, he repressed that side of himself that wished to be more vocal. Later in life, he would work for seventeen years in a children’s hospital, and the physical wounds he would witness that were inflicted on the children and their powerlessness to protect themselves, would have a profound effect on his own expression.

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Ray Caesar

 

 

“I was working in the children’s hospital, in which I saw a picture of a child who was murdered,” – Caesar remembers. “I couldn’t get that out of my head. Actually after I saw that particular picture I quit the hospital maybe 3 weeks later; I was really coming apart.”

This experience influenced Ray Caesar’s art: “I started drawing a lot of pictures of it, and started tucking it away and burning them. Things were safe if they were burned because no one could touch them again. I have tried to create a place where they are safe.”

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Ray Caesar

 

Jenna Simon

Eating Disorder

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Jenna Simon

 

One day Jenna felt that her life was getting out of control.  Eating disorder had been developing every day. But Jenna could find a way out – art.

Jenna’s first memories about creating are related to her childhood. She remembers doodling on napkins during dinner. Her doodles turned into sketches when she was 18. Then after extreme dieting developed into bulimia, she ended up seeking professional treatment. In her spare time, she would draw sketches of celebrities and landscapes. But when she became frustrated with her therapy sessions, Simon struggled to find a way to describe what she was feeling – so she drew it.

“I showed it to my therapist, and she was like, ‘This is amazing. … People would relate to this,'” –  says Simon.

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Jenna Simon

 

Jenna continued to draw, mostly for herself, until two years later, when the images she shared on Facebook started to go viral. She created sketches, depicting herself with tears and a smiling mask. These drawings captured the attention of many.

Depicting her experiences, Simon continued to share drawings in hopes of telling those struggling with an eating disorder that someone understood what they were experiencing. That catharsis of artistic expression guides her as her own recovery continues.

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Jenna Simon

 

Tara Shuey

Fibromyalgia

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Tara Shuey

 

“I am a self-taught artist who has been creatively charged from an early age,” – Tara says. When Tara was 22, she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia – a widespread pain condition that affects muscles and nerves.

Tara transforms such things as broken shards into organic, plant-like formations to get rid of the pain. “I am able to use my art as a means of growing from my pain, by transforming my painful feelings into vivacious designs,” – Tara explains. “Upon first glance, one might perceive my painting as “light-hearted, whimsical,” however, upon closer examination, the seeds of pain become apparent.”

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Tara Shuey 10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Tara Shuey

 

Lonni Sue Johnson

Amnesia

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Lonni Sue Johnson

 

Lonni Sue Johnson has always been an artist, but amnesia gave her an opportunity to change the way she creates.The illustrator had been working in the sphere for 31 years. Her works were published by The New York Times and appeared on covers of The New Yorker magazine. Lonni Sue Johnon also created illustrations for The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, the medical field, major corporations and the government. Additionally, the artist illustrated many books. Her art has been recognized by the White House and the United Nations and is in the Smithsonian collection.

On New Year Eve in 2008, Lonni Sue’s pen nearistly stopped. The art had been struck with a severe case of encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, and nearly died. She had to relearn how to walk, talk, and eat. Margaret Kennard Johnson, mother and fellow artist, has been helping Lonni Sue regain her art.

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Lonni Sue Johnson

 

 

Surprisingly, in the very area of her loss, Lonni Sue’s visual skills begin to fill in. In order to grasp the present moment, before it vanishes from memory, she urgently writes and draws. Thoughts, which would otherwise be constantly slipping away, are held on the page, where she can build ideas. In the process, she has been leaving a detailed record of her thought, for us to see. We can see creative ideas unfolding and watch shifts in her mental ability.

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Lonni Sue Johnson

 

Leslie Chavez

Dislexia

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Leslie Chavez

 

Leslie haven’t found a way to reconcile with her disorder. “Every day I am stressed, dispirited and fed up because I never feel satisfied with my work — whether it’s academic, my campus jobs or an artistic project,” – she says.

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Leslie Chavez

 

 

She has to work twice as hard as others to understand what they were able to pick up quickly. “Thankfully, my professors are flexible with my learning disability, but once I’m done with school, I won’t have that help. I have to blend in with everyone else and pretend my learning disability won’t affect my job. Those feelings will always be there with me, by my side.”

Dyslexia challenges the artist to use words, so she practices expressing her emotions through visual art. ”I find myself loving and treasuring the simplest aspects of life.”

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Leslie Chavez

 

Christie Begnell

Eating Disorder

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Christie Begnell

 

Christie began drawing while she was a patient in a mental health clinic. She found it difficult to communicate with people, who surrounded her. “To the staff, I was just another “crazy”, young girl with issues,” – Christie says. “They didn’t understand my illness and therefore didn’t know how to treat me. So, she created an alternative way.

Christie began drawing her experiences and showing them to her family and nurses. As she found the help she needed, Christie continued to draw and use her illustrations as a way of expressing her pain to her therapists. Several members of her healthcare team encouraged her to develop a book. In this way ‘Me and My ED’ was born.

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Christie Begnell

 

“I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I did. I hope that one day we reach a point where Eating Disorders are widely understood and nobody has to experience discrimination and stigma for their illness, but until that day I will use my voice to spread awareness and encourage people in their recovery.”

10 Creatives Who Suffer From Mental Illness. Christie Begnell

 

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