Meta-pictures of Mental Illness: An Aporia of Visualization

By Diane Zeeuw.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Mental illness is an inner experience that continues to be viewed with fear and suspicion by others. I would like to examine images that attempt to represent or make salient a qualitative sense of such elusive abstract states, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. As image makers, we continue to deploy clichés as equivalencies for the disordered mind, including: spatial fragmentation, histrionic, hermeneutical overload, romanticized portraits of anguish or conversely, vacancy. Many other researchers have noted the plethora of such representational stereotypes, and I am not per-se concerned with the dismantling of such representations, but rather, with why it is that we are left with such inadequate images or so called “tired significations” of such a deeply human phenomenon. The sort of images I would like to specifically focus upon are those that demonstrate, even enact in a meta-pictorial way, an awareness of their own inherent pictorial inadequacy.

Keywords: Mental Illness, Inadequacy, Failure, Unknown, Aporia, Meta-pictures

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp.1-8. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 185.298KB).

Diane Zeeuw

Professor of Graduate Painting and Art Theory, Chair, Painting Program , Kendall College of Art and Design, KCAD of Ferris State University, Grand Rapids, MI, USA

Professor Zeeuw’s academic career intersects both theory and practice. She teaches graduate-level courses in critical studies including Ethics and Visual Representation, and Post-Structuralism. Additionally, Diane also teaches graduate painting and serves as the Chair of both the Graduate and Undergraduate Painting programs at KCAD of Ferris State University. As a practicing artist, Professor Zeeuw has maintained a national exhibition record. She has recently exhibited her work at the New Arts Project in Pennsylvania, Gallery 33 Contemporary, Zhou B Art Center in Chicago, the Maryland Federation of Art in Annapolis, and Wayne State University in Detroit. Her work may also be found in the permanent collections of the Detroit Institute of Art, Steelcase Corporation, the Robert B. Annis Water Resources Institute, and the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences. Professor Zeeuw has also been the recipient of a number of grants including a significant individual Artserve grant; she also served on the Artserve advisory peer review panel for the state of Michigan. Professor Zeeuw’s research has been presented nationally and internationally, including Meta-pictures of Mental Illness; An Aporia of Visualization, presented at the Mediations Biennale in Poznan, Poland; Aesthetic Disparagement: Stereotypes and Caricature, presented at Liberating the Curriculum, Diversity, Pedagogy, and Scholarship Across The Disciplines; and a paper exploring the potential impact of performance based funding models on student populations coping with psychiatric/neurological conditions entitled Can We Reconcile Our Financial Pressures With Our Desire For Diversity? presented at the American Association of University Professors conference in Washington D.C.