Content Advisory: Please note the following content is directly or indirectly related to topics about depression, suicide, and self-harm.
I am a self-taught, stumbling along and learning as I go artist.
After six years, four majors (none art-related) at two different schools I ended up with a career in bartending.
I have always been a doodler but after becoming a mama, I picked up a paint brush and never put it down.
I began participating in local art events and found my niche custom designing stemware. With the help of social media, I was able to give up serving and shipped worldwide. Business was booming.
Until I had my first major, manic episode. I am Bipolar 1 with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
Business completely halted.
I painted a butterfly on a window during that not-yet-diagnosed episode and after months of rebound, realized how well it represents the dual sides of Bipolar disorder. The beautiful, creative side vs the chaotic, disastrous. It actually represents all mental illness. How on one side we try to show our best, most beautiful self even when we may be crumbling on the other.
I received such a response after sharing the story behind the original Bipolar Butterfly that I decided to paint a series.
While painting, I heard a segment on NPR about mental health and violence.
Many, many awful statistics but the one that I could not stop obsessing about is:
‘the #2 cause for death for 10 to 34-year-olds is suicide’
I had a 10 and 13-year-old. Who are genetically predisposed to struggle with depression and anxiety.
I decided right there I want to use the Bipolar Butterfly to make a difference for them and their entire generation.
I responded to an open call for murals at a local mall and after sharing my story, they agreed to let me paint the 1st interactive, public art Bipolar Butterfly wing mural.
I have since installed 8 public art installations and have 3 scheduled for 2021 across NE Ohio.
With the help and collaboration of companies who want to be a part of this movement, I have been able to create pieces I never could otherwise.
I have worked with a metal fabricator, Industrial painter, carpenter, and tech designer to create new works of art.
I am now an art activist. My goal is to give mental health a visual representation that builds community and support as effectively as pink ribbons and rainbows do.
I want everyone to feel comfortable addressing mental health and seeking help when needed. I hope that every Bipolar Butterfly interactive public art installation provides opportunities for comfortable dialogue.
I know if I heard the outpour of support and stories I hear now, I may have accepted my own mental illness and agreed to help before I became delusional and had to be separated from my family for weeks. Not knowing the effect that experience will forever have on my children.
My goal is to install public art in every state and help end the stigma on mental illness.
I never dreamed that this would be my path and now, looking back and recognizing my patterns of ups and downs; I am fueled to keep going. To keep this project growing. To help make a difference for somebody.
Because it doesn’t matter your religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation, culture, age, location or economic status: no demographic is untouched by mental illness. This is one battle we can all join forces for.
With the current extra stressors of the pandemic, political disputes and social unrest; now more than ever we need to address mental health.
We can use our own experiences to help others. Just opening up with our own stories may be what someone needs to hear and can make a difference for their mental health journey.
Talk. Share. Help.
Please check out Kimmy’s amazing artwork here: https://www.bipolarbutterflyproject.com