Art inspired by mental illness and wellness: A Painted Brain gallery
Painted Brain is a peer-run mental health nonprofit that started as an art group. Here’s a selection of artwork by members who identify as people with lived experience with mental health challenges.
The “Anti-Depressers” is a comic by by Lawrence Rozner, who was part of the first art group that evolved into the peer-run mental health nonprofit Painted Brain. He said the comic came about as an Avengers parody of characters he had created over several years.
Left to right, as explained by Rozner:
1. A member of the band the Pill-Os, which are anthropomorphized pill capsules with Beatles hairstyles acting as the dividing line of a pill capsule.
2. Jarney, a Barney dinosaur character in a Jurassic Park-world.
3. Painted Brain.
4. The Knowing Nose (as nod to the phrase “The nose knows!”).
5. A self-aware air drone named A.I., “who resembles a bumblebee with quadcopter blades attached to his arms and legs, in an attempt of doing my own Astro Boy-type of character where a drone could actually be a hero instead of the stereotypical villain that you see depicted in dystopian movies and TV shows.”
6. The Conscience, “which I intentionally made as a silly spectral being who wears coke-bottle glasses, a white cape that looks like a tablecloth tied around his neck, briefs and knee high socks with sneakers — and has wild blue hair.” (Lawrence Rozner)
Lawrence Rozner, who was part of the art group that became Painted Brain, worked with another early member to create the first logo for the peer-run mental health nonprofit.
“He drew the initial illustration of a brain holding a paintbrush with its brain stem and the nerve endings acting as fingers gripping the paintbrush,” Rozner said.
(The Painted Brain)
In 2006, Painted Brain co-founder Dave Leon compiled the first issue of the group’s magazine with art, poetry and interviews created by a community of peers living with serious mental illness. (The Painted Brain)
Amer Azad is a member of the first art group that evolved into the peer-run mental health nonprofit Painted Brain. (Amer Azad)
Amer Azad was a member of the art group that evolved into the peer-run mental health nonprofit Painted Brain. (Amer Azad)
Lawrence Rozner came up with this illustration of a chicken running on a treadmill in one of the early Painted Brain art groups. The tagline for the drawing was “Work faster.” (Lawrence Rozner)
This illustration by Lawrence Rozner, an early member what became Painted Brain, is a nod to the group’s work with digital literacy.
“I decided to go with a ‘Mission Impossible’ parody, where the Brain is on his computer with a headset, while the Nose is hanging from a wire attempting to insert a USB drive into a computer port,” he said. (Lawrence Rozner)
Adrian Alfaro, the artist behind this linoleum art print, is a staff member at Painted Brain.
“It’s an image that allows me to think about my own perspective as a whole and how that can be a world of its own,” Alfaro said. “But I also have to think of the multiplicity of worlds of thought that exist with a planet full of human beings. Then my mind shifts to thoughts of collective thinking and how that is its own world filled with a group of humans all inhabiting a single world.”
He said it’s a reminder to be open-minded about exploring different worlds of thought, as well as an expression of how important mental health is to him. (Adrian Alfaro)
Cia Atkins is a group leader at the peer-run mental health nonprofit Painted Brain.
“The inspiration behind this piece has a lot to do with what is happening globally in the world right now,” she said. “I used iconographies such as sun, moon, land and water to portray the uncertainty of our ecosystem. Using these different symbols has always played a part in my personal work. I used ink and watercolor to create depth within the elements of land and water. The figure to the right is a swirly faced character with the saying ‘Where’ on their shirt. This gives off the message of where we will be in the years to come. The clock hanging in the sky symbolizes time spent, forgotten and what’s next.” (Cia Atkins)