My paintings are about my mind, and this isn’t a new thing. Artists throughout history and today have used art to depict their mind states, whether for catharsis, for further understanding of themselves, communication with others, or personal reasons that need not be put in words. My paintings do all of these things for me, and I get excited to see the diverse ways other artists explore this territory.
I was especially taken with this “Cloud Chart” by autistic artist Louis DeMarco. Through visual art he catalogues mental states and behaviors as a coping device for his condition. His approach is beautifully honest and interestingly thorough. I relate to the way Louis uses color to code his different feelings and behaviors. I do exactly the same thing, with other elements of visual art to round out the vision.
The idea of labeling and “picturing” an inner experience is in the interest of shedding light on what is secret (or at least murky.) The act of bringing it forth into a manifested realm makes it harder to ignore, and forces the artist to examine its impact, even in the tiniest way. This is self-discovery at a basic, but very effective level.
It isn’t hard to imagine that Louis can refer to a particular cloud when its corresponding habit or thought is rising, and that its recognition gives him comfort, somehow. He is familiar with this “old friend” and not surprised by it. It must give him a modicum of power to have these part of himself codified and out of the “unknown.” This has been my experience, at least. The explorations of the Cloud Chart remind me that my work’s intentions are in good company, and that our humanness is always a fascinating thing to explore.
Louis DeMarco is a part of Project Onward, a non-profit organization in Chicago, supporting the professional development of artists with exceptional talents and challenges, ranging from autism to mental illness, and provides these artists with workspace, materials, professional guidance, exhibition opportunities and access to markets to sell their work and advance their careers.