Sunday, July 15, 2012

Creativity and Depression

I went to Gallery Row yesterday. It is small strip of Prince St., in Lancaster Pa., where many local artists have their art galleries. I had hoped to visit two of my friends  today; but, I ended up being to tired to get to the second gallery. 

I adore going to my friend's gallery. The music is calm, the gallery quiet and beauty surrounds me. The place is serene. The bonus there is not only do I get to talk with my friend, but I also get to watch him work.  If I am very tired, I can climb onto his comfy lounge chair in the back and watch him work and take a nap, if I need. 


While there I showed him my blog and the ManTherapy website; I thought he'd get a kick out of it. This brought us to the topic of depression and creativity. For centuries, melancholia/depression has been linked to those involved in the creative arts. As a professional artist, he said he could understand why this is. He said "artists and creative types are part of the few that are willing to look within and delve depths of their souls. And as hard as it is to do this, we do this because we aren't willing to live a hum drum life. This self exploration allows us to become fully alive".

Now I dabble in fabric arts and crafts at times. I've often written poetry and I even have a published book. Yet, when in the midst of my deepest depression, like most poets, artists and composers, I am unable to work during this periods of severe depression. "In fact, many have found their inability to create while depressed to be an impetus for ending it all. Virginia Woolf, for example, unable to write during the onset of a depressive episode, filled her pockets with stones and submerged herself in the River Ouse."

According to Psychology Today there are 4 reasons that are believed to be connections between creativity and depression:

Artists and writers use their craft as a form of auto-therapy for depression. Their creativity helps to ward of  melancholia.

THE SCREAM    source
The experience of depression may provide subject matter for artistic creations: for example Edvard Munch's famous painting The Scream:

A person needs to experience both the joys and sorrows of life to fully comprehend the human condition, so they can or convey it meaningfully in their creative work. "Thus, depression provides the existential angst from which great art arises".

 Recovery from depression that inspires creative work: according to recent research it may just be the recovery from depression that is the inspiration for creative work rather than the depression.

Early I spoke about being in my friend's gallery. I thought you might like a glimpse inside it too. Below is a video of my friend, Freiman Stolzfus, inside his gallery. You'll some of his work in progress and he'll be speaking about the quilts (another art form) in Lancaster, county PA. I thought you might enjoy this YouTube Video entitled:

Lancaster Heritage Quilt Fund.m4v

Ashby, F.G., Isen, A.M., & Turken, U. (1999). A neuropsychological theory of positive affect and its influence on cognition. Psychological Review, 106(3), 529-550. Jamison, K. (1989). Mood disorders and patterns of creativity in British writers and artists. Psychiatry, 52: 125-134.

No comments:

Post a Comment