Sarah Neat

Damaged

Senior Project December 2013

ARTIST STATEMENT


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is psychiatric in nature. Typically PTSD is a result of witnessing, or bring a part of, a traumatic event, including anything from natural disasters, war, participating in combat, incidents of terrorism, sudden and critical accidents, physical assault, mental abuse, or sexual assault. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a stress reaction that does not go away over time, where most survivors of trauma will return to normal living and behaviors given some time. These prolonged and growing stressors result in PTSD. My own experience with PTSD has been highly personal – specifically from abuse by a step-parent during my childhood, and domestic abuse from a past relationship. My PTSD has included symptoms of feeling detached, feelings of isolation, extreme depression and the desire to die, thoughts of suicide, angry outbursts due to short temper, avoidance, jumpiness and paranoia due to hyper-awareness, self-mutilation, poor self-esteem, night terrors and frequent nightmares, OCD, social anxiety and extreme timidity, panic and anxiety attacks, and multiple flashbacks simply by minor triggers. I had only recently discovered that I had PTSD, and sought help through counseling. My symptoms slowly began improving, and the therapy helped some minor symptoms to disappear altogether.


Being that my chosen subject is quite macabre in itself, though expressive in nature, I chose to display each emotion through the use of graphite and charcoal on paper or matting board. Some artists of disturbing art genres choose to work with color to emphasize gore, but I had felt that color would actually inhibit the necessary projection of the emotions I wished to portray. Multiple sized drawings were created in order to further the chaotic atmosphere. Various and extensive emotions and experiences will be illustrated, including depression, desolation, despair, rage, exhaustion, frustration, confusion, and many more intricate feelings of myself, a PTSD victim. Throughout the entire installation, I have pinned up black string in varying lengths representing the numerous repetitive lines it has taken to create the artwork. The string also serves to echo the trails that tears make when one has been crying from the suffering that occurs when trauma is involved.


My artwork stems from the misunderstanding by family and friends of my PTSD symptoms, and I seek to invoke my own inner emotions and endurance of my disorder through the use of an anthropomorphic cartoon character which represents me. I then express the symptoms and processes through my drawing skills, hoping to sufficiently translate these complex emotions to those who otherwise would not understand, to meet in a sort of mutual understanding, a moment of learning for those who are outside looking in. To draw these artworks has been a therapy in and of itself for me as the artist, but I would hope that the therapy would not stop at my own psyche. I liken the art I have created to a song on the radio one listens to when they feel the same way the singer describes – to look at my works, I wish for the viewer to think to themselves “this... I've felt this way before,” I want the viewer to know that they are not alone in their own dreary or dismal situation. We have all endured our own pains and tortures which traumatize each person differently. The idea behind these ghastly images is not to shock and terrorize the viewer, but to allow the viewer a crack in the blinds in which they can glimpse what it is to be a survivor of trauma and a sufferer of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.


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