Art Therapy: Use Visual Art to Unwind Yourself

“It’s ok to not be ok. It’s ok to show people you are not ok”. —–“Split Image”

This week’s learning project is a reflection on “Split Image,” an article by Kate Fagan. By narrating the tragic and double life of a young athlete, who showed a perfect public image while committing suicide because of multifaceted stress, Fagan concerns with the distortion of digital identity. For various reasons, people tend to present an edited version of life on social media; They share moments that reflect an ideal life and an ideal self. I thought, what about my life on social media? I browsed the content on my social media accounts. There are baking products, selfies with delicate make-up, and colorful artwork. It seems that I never share my sorrow. Where does my sorrow come from? It comes from endless essays, cold weather, and high expectations from others. I am tired of maintaining a positive online presence. I am going to use art therapy to help me feel better, as well as narrative writing.

Art therapy and narrative writing are subjective and autobiographical. There are no constraints or rules. You draw and write whatever you like. Wanna see some examples? I invited you to read Anatole Broyard’s “Intoxicated By My Illness.” This is an essay collection that Broyard completed in the last few months of his life. There are many “I” in his article, first-person narrative. I can see the swift change in his emotions. From the anxiety at the beginning to the meditation in the middle to the relief in the end, he evolves because of his illness (or writing?) He depicts illness and the threat of death to readers, who are suffering from something, something exhausting. Death and live are two sides on a mirror; They reflects each other. When you live, you wonder about death; When you are dying, you strive to live. Dying and illness let people realize the significance of live. Why wouldn’t we indulge with it?


I got inspiration from my sorrow. I used a small brush to paint black pigments slowly on the digital canva, as if I was clearing up the dark corners in my heart. I don’t want to follow the grammar anymore, can I use present tense? What about painting the other side white? I use white pigment to imitate the ripples. Now it is half black and white. It can’t be so extreme. When I feel sad, does that mean I don’t have delight anymore? It’s not like that. I am homesick everyday, however, the past of everyday means I am closer to go home. That’s why the black and white are mixed together, always.

I create via Sumo, a free software I like most this semester. Do not wear a mask; it’s time to put it down.

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One Response to Art Therapy: Use Visual Art to Unwind Yourself

  1. Melanie Darlington says:

    This is so beautiful Yiquan. I really love how emotional and spiritual your paintings are. You can tell you paint from the heart and with sorrow. Its so beautiful. What had you inspired for this painting? Did you have past experience with painting?

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