Side Effects | Lecture
This talk was originally given at the NSU Museum of Art on April 16, 201 9

Mental Health and it's treatment have been the focus of this decade-long body of work titled "Side Effects".
Since being diagnosed with a Mental Illness in 2006, my work has become the medium to describe my disability through the language of visual art. In this sense, despite my disability, I am able to express myself and be a vital part of society.

This cathartic, introspective body of work reflects my own personal struggles with hearing voices, delusions, paranoia and depression.

Art Therapy

While I was In the hospital in New York City, one of the daily activities was Art Therapy.

One of the first sessions I attended was focused on the Mandala.

My work with the mandala imagery reflected my inner state of mind at that moment.

According to Carl Jung, Creating mandalas helps stabilize, integrate, and re-order inner life.

The form of the Spiral emerged as I began to intermix my own thoughts with medical definitions of psychiatric diagnosis.

I started to rip out parts of the paper I was writing on and call these pieces Wounds.

In these pieces that I refer to as Stains I Added watercolor.

And in Torn I began tearing the paper.


Pills, Wallpaper and Sound

Since consuming pills have evolved into of my daily routine they have become a central focus for many of the works.

I made an assemblage out of repurposed materials, sound proofing board, wallpaper and a medication I was no longer taking. This was when I began to work with pills, wallpaper and alluding the idea of sound.

Sleeping Beauty, 2008

My use of wallpaper refers to the short story, "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
The main character suffers a nervous breakdown and experiences psychosis as I did in the early onset of my Illness.
Wallpaper covers walls just as pills cover the symptoms of mental illness experienced while in treatment.

Hearing Voices Installation, 2011

In the Installation Hearing Voices, my intention was to mimic the experience of auditory hallucinations.
The speakers were hidden behind the walls so that the voices appeared externalized and sounded as though they were coming from outside of the room.
Hanging on the walls covered with wallpaper was a series of mixed media objects that incorporated pills.

The sound was made by recalling my experience of hearing voices, writing what I could remember as a stream of conscious text document.
Once the text was complete I recorded my own voice and edited the audio into eight separate sound tracks.

The action of taking down the Installation Hearing Voices-- detaching the walls and reusing them as material artifacts became The Rubble in My Mind: The Deconstruction of Hearing Voices

The walls from the installation lean up against the walls of the gallery to suggest the need for support in order to overcome distress.

The Rubble In My Mind: The deconstruction of Hearing Voices, 2011

The cracks on the plywood surface, the rips in the wallpaper are meant to expose that which is generally hidden from view.


All the Pills In My House was the beginning of the use of resin in my work. Using resin allowed me to preserve the pills.

All the Pills In My House, 2011

All the Pills In My House (detail), 2011

All the Pills In My House (Installation View), 2011

I started to work with themes and types of pills.

All white pills:

White Lies, 2012

White Lies (detail), 2012

Sleeping pills:

Sweet Dreams, 2012

Sweet Dreams (detail), 2012

Purchasing over the counter pills:

Mirror Mirror, 2013

Emphasizing the multi-colored marketing of pills:

From The Edge Of Darkness (I Lost Myself), 2013

From The Edge Of Darkness (I Lost Myself) Side View, 2013

Pills bought at the dollar store:

Vertigo, 2012

Diet pills:

Temptation, 2013

Birth control pills:

Indian Summer, 2013


Happy Pills, 2017

Pink pills obviously marketed to women :

Freudian Slip, 2017

In Mrs. Dalloway I re-introduced the use of wallpaper and refer to the novel written by Virginia Wolf.
The work was equally inspired by the contemporary film titled The Hours.

Mrs. Dalloway, 2018

I also started to work with the form of the mandala again:

Circles of Obsession, 2014

Circles of Obsession In Small Doses, 2014

Elixir Vitae, 2017

As I was making the crushed pill work titled 'Relapse' I began to photograph the pills with my cell phone as I was crushing them.

The series of photographs are installed with the actual crushed pill piece in a non-linear pattern mirroring the unsuspecting onset of a relapse during the recovery process.


Relapse, 2017

Relapse Installation View, 2017

The Body

I have also made a series of figurative works that embody the psychological and physical toll mental illness as well as medications take on the body.

I made this work using plaster bandages as a way to refer to the feeling of being wounded.

Medicine Ball (study), 2012

Medicine Ball (study) InstallationView

In Medicine Ball I was interested in making a work where the hand appeared to come out from the wall.

Medicine Ball, 2012


And then again in the Installation Hand To Mouth.

Hand To Mouth Installation View

The use of color has a double meaning. It reflects both emotions as well as the multi-colored manufacturing of the pills themselves.

Hand To Mouth (Spectrum), 2012

Hand To Mouth (Sleep), 2012

Hand To Mouth (Flesh), 2012

Hand To Mouth (Gold), 2012

Hand To Mouth (Candy), 2012

Hand To Mouth (Copper), 2012

Hand To Mouth (Mica), 2012

Again, I used plaster bandages to suggest the need for recovery.

Veil of Secrecy, 2013

A psychiatrist once told me that Schizophrenia is a translation of the words the split mind-- And has nothing to do with the popular misconception of having a split personality.

Split, 2017

Screen Printing

In addition to my pill-based works, I work with silkscreen images of pills and pill bottles.

I began photographing the pill bottles I saved while making my resin based works. Altering the images so they appeared more like a sketch or drawing and then making silkscreens on board.

Dreamweaver, 2014

Stacker, 2014

Knock-Out, 2014

Super Diet Pill, 2014

Then I started to photograph pills to make silk screen images and printed them onto wallpaper.

Untitled, 2018

Pain, 2018

Voices, 2018

Untitled, 2018

Delusions, 2018

Untitled, 2018

Depression, 2018

The image of the parrot reoccurs as a way to describe the externalization of the voices in my head.

Untitled, 2018

Hallucinations, 2018

Untitled, 2018

Untitled, 2018

Untitled, 2018

With a box filled with prints I decided to collage the prints into a fragmented pattern. Images of bird cages, parrots, elephants and empty chairs on wallpaper are repeated throughout these works.

Despite being in recovery, this imagery is meant to allude to the lingering psychic grip hallucinations and other symptoms of psychosis have on the mind.

Listening To A Voice Unknown, 2018

Listening To A Voice Unknown (detail), 2018

Speaking To A Voice Unknown, 2018

Speaking To A Voice Unknown (detail), 2018

Speaking To A Voice Unknown (Installation View), 2018

Each work is a portrait of a time in my life, a memory, and seen together they tell a story. They are markers of what I was experiencing; my state of mind influenced by a particular medication. 
While I have taken a very personal approach in making this body of work, I realize it also has a universal impact.  Many people, after seeing the work, share stories of similar struggles. 
Those interactions nourish the drive to keep going; to continue to make work that touches my audience and encourages dialogue.