Why Marin Mind/Scapes?

Trail on Elephant Mountain

I have created Marin Mind/Scapes to help change perceptions about people who have a mental illness. Through my personal history of mental illness and recovery, I understand stigma first-hand.

In my early Twenties, I was taken in an ambulance to Herrick Hospital in Berkeley after my college roommates called 911.  It was my first psychotic break. I was delusional and traumatized. I thought I was dead. No one could convince me otherwise.

I was treated with anti-psychotic medications, Stellazine and Thorazine, which filled my brain with a fog so thick I could barely move.  I was lost and devastated.

While I was in the hospital, a friend brought me a book that helped bring me back to life: Eliot Porter’s In Wildness is the Preservation of the World. Each photograph in this Sierra Club publication drew me in to the beauty and wildness of the natural world. Locked in a mental ward, surrounded by people with shattered minds and hearts like mine, I drew strength from pouring over those photographs. Through them, while confined to the prison-like hospital ward, I connected with the beauty and the  strong, vital life force in Nature.

It took years to recover from that break. Like many others, I went off medications because I could not tolerate their side effects, and in and out of paranoid delusions. I did not want to be mentally ill. I wanted to be normal. I was ashamed of my illness, and for years I avoided once-close friends and social situations.

I am fortunate. I could have easily ended up on the streets homeless. Unlike many people who lack awareness of their illness, I knew something was wrong. My family took me in until I became more stable. Over many years of testing reality, (Were those statues really talking to me?), I am grateful to say  that I have recovered.

The wildness of nature continues to sustain me. I am blessed to live in West Marin, in the San Geronimo Valley surrounded by green grassy hills and streams where the salmon spawn. Creating art in such beautiful surroundings brings me home.

We are all part of Nature, and we all, at one time or another, to varying degrees, lose ourselves and our way. Nature and art can bring us back to ourselves and help us recover our core balance. Marin Mind/Scapes celebrates Marin County’s unique natural environment, the artists who express their love of Marin’s landscapes through their work, and particularly the strength and resilience of those artists whose art has helped them recover from mental illness.

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