depression visible

depression visible
depression visible
depression visible
depression visible
depression visible
depression visible
depression visible
depression visible

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Diana Alishouse was born in 1943 and spent her childhood moving around with her military family. She has lived in Colorado since 1957 when her father was stationed in Colorado Springs.

After graduating from college in 1964 with a degree in social studies, she has been a craft-gallery owner, bookkeeper, silversmith, sales rep for a food distributor, school cook, stockbroker, graphic-design studio manager, farm wife, and fiber artist. Any one of those jobs could have become a productive lifetime career, but the ups and downs and ins and outs of her mood disorder resulted in this hodge-podge of jobs. It also resulted in the acquisition of the skills which enable her to reach out to others who have depressive illnesses.

The pattern of her career echoes the pattern of her bouts with depression and mild episodes of hypomania. As each plunge into depression brought with it a debilitating sense of futility and incompetence, she says she “…grasped for a new endeavor, one that would make me feel alive and whole for awhile before I fell into another black hole of depression.”

After being diagnosed with major depression and chronic depression in 1985, she set out to learn as much as she could about her illness. As she tried to understand what was wrong and how to heal, she began to design and make the series of fiber art pieces that would become the Ragged Edge body of work.

Art, according to Picasso, is “…a mediator between this…hostile world and us, a way of seizing the power by giving form to our terrors as well as our desires.” This is what Alishouse was able to do as she made her artwork. “My art helped me to seize power. The works gave form to my terrors of the illness and to my desire to heal. They helped me understand this illness and myself.”

Diana Alishouse now uses her art and writing to spread the word that depression is a physical brain disorder with physical, psychological, cognitive, social, and spiritual aspects. It can be treated successfully in most cases, but first, “…the symptoms must be recognized as symptoms,” she says, “not as lack of will-power or a character defect.”

Diana and her husband live happily next to the mountains in Cañon City, Colorado. She spends joyful days in her studio creating fiber art. Alishouse is a member of Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA), the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance of Colorado Springs (DBSA-CS), and the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI). She says she is still learning about depression and bipolar illness.


From Diana

Making art is my way of organizing my world—both my physical (formal) world and my inner (thinking and emotional) world.

Physically I am using skills I have been learning all my life to organize incoherent piles of materials into a coherent physical design. This is the formal quality of my work.

During my childhood I spent a great deal of time alone learning to manipulate materials to create texture, form, and color. I used all sorts of materials: wood, cardboard, chalk, crayons, clay, stones, vines, mud, grass, saplings, blankets, chairs, scrap iron, feed bags, paper, paint, clothes, tools—this list could go on forever. I designed and built and arranged things. Everybody (including me) thought I was playing. It wasn't until many years later that I realized my play was really my work and had been an important part of my art education. I now use only a few materials, but the lessons from the many still remain.

My adult art education came from friends who were artists and from basic college art classes in drawing, design, and art history.

I did a lot of sewing, mostly "survival" type stuff like clothes for the family and home decorating projects. Sewing was enjoyable, but I never thought of it as particularly creative or expressive. That is, not until my wonderful mother-in-law and her friends showed me how to quilt. Little did they suspect the spirit they were setting free. The quilting medium was mine. I loved it. It brought together all my skills of manipulating and arranging and visualizing, and set me free to create.

Making my art is an important thinking tool because I use it to organize thoughts, opinions, emotions, and information. This is the content of my work.

As I wonder and think about something, the words and ideas tumble around in my head, going faster and faster, and getting all confused. The best way I have found to tame that whirlwind in my head is to anchor the thoughts by giving them a visual reality and stitching them down. Somehow the wondering in my brain connects with the knowledge that has been built up in my eyes and hands, and the thoughts get sorted into an image or collection of images that make sense. My art speaks for me without words.

-Diana

 
 
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