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Presentation and Workshop by Ryan Wilson Paulsen: “Art & Mental Health; Or, The Necessity of Self Care”

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left: Ryan Wilson Paulsen; right: Paulsen and longtime collaborator Anna Gray

Given the devastating effects of global capitalism on our planet and growing consciousness of the oppression and inequality that characterize our social world and history, many are at a loss as to how to make a future without massive waves of violence.  Anxiety, despair, confusion, and depression are widespread; trauma is a fact not an exception.  How can we build practices centered on care for ourselves and our world?  How can art be a mode for accomplishing this work?  As social beings, self-care is more than an individual imperative to live healthier; it is a social process as well as a personal one.  Throughout the history of art, we find many examples of artists expressing the unspeakable, the internal, and the invisible, using visual expression as a process to care for themselves and to connect to others.  Contemporary artists have engaged with issues of mental health and self-care from many perspectives as well, utilizing therapeutic or advocacy practices, working therapeutically and empathically.  This talk and workshop explore and problematize representations of mental health and self-care in our contemporary world, using examples from art and music to begin suggesting a way forward.