Recently, Khadijah Sahraoui and myself had an exhibition dealing with depression at Gallery 116 in Stoke on Trent, UK. The exhibition was called The Dark Side of the Light. The Dark Side of the Light touches upon different aspects of loss, aloneness, violence, which often leads to depression. It was an exhibition that was necessary for my healing, in particular, because of dealing with depression first through my mother and then in my own life. It is never an easy road, and many deal with depression behind closed doors, but we need to show it is not an illness that needs to be neatly tucked away, hoping no one would notice.
Khadijah Sahraoui explored depression through her minimal painting of black and white figures depicting the angst of depression. For myself, I chose to turn the camera on myself and explore the emotions associated with depression. In this post I am showing the images that were in our exhibition, and hope that you will not turn away, but accept that it can happen to anyone. Through opening the doors to acknowledging mental illness, we can begin to address and heal from this lonely illness. Here are some images that I shared during the exhibition. Thank you.
I was born in Puerto Rico raised in the Bronx…lived in the Netherlands, France, and in all the places I have been I have not found a place that has been so welcoming and real then Stoke. It is a hidden gem waiting to be rediscovered. I have not shown my work since 2008, and I was asked to collaborate with Khadijah Sahrauoi to explore and deliver an emotional response to the ramifications of depression. We had to search real deep within ourselves to expose our insides and share with our world. It was difficult and easy at the same time because we had to allow ourselves to reveal our vulnerable selves. But that is it! We shove our feelings under the table hoping no one will judge us but what happens we go on a lonely journey. We all do it, and we all hope no one notices it.
Gallery 116 located at 116 Church Street in Stoke on Trent allowed us to reveal what depression looks like through photographs, paintings, and video. It has been well received, and our show will be up until 12 March. Darren Washington, founder of Gallery 116 has a vision for Stoke. His vision is to transform Stoke from an unused, unnoticed small town into a cultural hub where the arts can thrive and flourish. Washington is committed to help this cultural oasis grow that would include the contributions from all of Stoke not only from a privileged few.
I hope that the city of Stoke will acknowledge Washington’s commitment to elevate Stoke, but what is needed is the backing of the Stoke government. He made it happened independently. It is up to the City to help him make Stoke succeed as the cultural hub of Stoke on Trent.
I have visited Stoke three times, and I truly can say I love Stoke and I want others to see what I see.
Photo by Darren Washington.