In recent times, mental health issues have become more in the spotlight as the nation grapples with human disasters as well as family members who are struggling with mentail health disorders. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness (46.6 million in 2017). Estimates suggest that only half of people with mental illnesses receive treatment.
Although mental illness awareness has increased, the stigma still remains on how people view others who may have a form of it. Creatives are doing a lot not only to engage people with mental illness in artistice pursuits, but also to address the issues of stigma surrounding it.
Aaron Davis, a photographer and Sandra Davis, a mixed media artist, are two creatives from Maryland, who are addressing mental health stigma as well as providing support to people with mental illness head on through The Davis Project. The Davis Project was created to help educate others about depression awareness through photography portraits and testimonies. The project's goal is to give people a tool to help themselves when it comes to prevention and support. The couple believes it is important to increase awareness of depression while making health a priority. Their hope is that people will continue to be strong in the fight of this illness and the stigma that surrounds it. They want to put a face on this illness to let others know that there is life while dealing with depression and other mental health issues.
During this discussion, we talk about how the Davis Project got started, what has been the biggest challenges and rewards so far with the project and how they hope to grow more awareness of mental health through this creative outlet in the future.
About the Co-Founders:
Aaron Davis, who is the co-founder of The Davis Project grew up in a small town outside of Cleveland, Ohio. After high school he attended The Art Institute of Pittsburgh where he studied graphic art and photography. After enlisting in the Marine Corps he experienced his first episode with mental illness, which he has lived with now for over 20 years. His experience led him to launch The Davis Project which features the photographs of people living with mental illness and leading normal lives to address stigma and confidence of his subjects.
His goal is to spread awareness about depression and mental illness and let others know it is not a death sentence.
Sandra Davis is a graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh where Ishe received a Degree in Commercial Art. As an artist, she started working with paper in 1996, creating images of clowns as a gift for her mother.
Sandra's work focuses on African American history, women and some abstract. The medium is “mixed media” which consist of paper from magazines, shredded paper, paper towels, mesh produce bags, and fabric as well as acrylic paints including the acrylic skins from leftover projects.
Sandra and Aaron have been married for 37 years and live in the Gaithersburg, Maryland area.
You can learn more about The Davis Project at http://thedavisproject.comisproject.com
Theme music for Spark Your Creative podcast was created exclusively by DC area musician and songwriter, Melvin Rodgers: https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/melvinrogers.
You can listen to the discussion below or on Stitcher or Google Play.