Juliette Ripley-Dunkelberger: Inner Workings

Show: February – March, 2018
Reception: February 2nd, 2018 6pm – 10pm

In February and March 2018, the gallery will be showing pieces from sculptor Juliette Ripley-Dunkelberger’s “Inner Workings,” a series exploring themes of mental illness. The work will be viewable during normal gallery hours and at the opening reception for the artist, February 2nd, from 6pm – 10pm at the gallery.
Alchemy
Alchemy

Artist Statement: Our inner workings are a mystery.  To varying degrees, all of us struggle to express what is going on inside and reconcile that with our experience in the outer world.  What if your inner world were tilted, off of its axis, just enough to make you stumble for no reason.  What if your inner workings were affected by vertigo and didn’t make sense to even you at times.

Those who battle with mental health issues and their care givers are constantly looking for a way to right those inner workings; to find a way to walk on level ground like everyone else.  They do this while fighting against an invisible enemy.  One that isn’t seen by most doctors.  While 25% of primary care patients suffer from depression; primary care doctors identify less than 30% of them1.  It is an invisible enemy.  Perhaps that is the crux of the problem, we can’t see it.  We must trust those that feel it to be telling the truth, even when the truth sounds ‘crazy’.
The social stigma surrounding mental health issues stop us from asking, talking about or often looking for the symptoms.  Even those that suffer from mental health issues often don’t consider that as a culprit for their discomfort or struggles.
When someone is diagnosed with cancer, communities help by raising money, bringing food or offering other needed support.  When someone is diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, there is rarely a rally cry for support.  More often there is a careful mapping out of one’s life so that others don’t find out.  Where are the full freezers so you don’t have to cook?  Or rides to your appointments because the med’s make you nauseous, or just the supportive look or tone of voice offered with empathy for the hand life has dealt you?  Instead there is often condemnation for having a bad attitude, not trying hard enough or just being weak.
"Inner Workings"
Inner Workings

Mental health/illness is very like diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease or chronic respiratory disease.  It is an illness.  It requires medical care, medications, habit change, diligent self-care and therapy.  No one suggests that someone with heart disease should ‘buck up’ or ‘just get over it’.   Unlike with other illnesses, we can’t do blood tests for depression or biopsy for Bipolar which makes it extraordinarily hard to diagnose and treat.  Medications for depression, for instance, may help with suicidal thoughts or may cause significantly more depending on “if they work for you”.   The experimentation continues until something helps.  And all of that is assuming you have health insurance to help pay for it.Mental illness not only drains those who battle with it, it also drains our economy.  Mental health disorders are one of the five most costly conditions in the US, as much as cancer treatments.  We pour over $60 billion into our mental health systems annually.

Mental health costs are the largest single source; larger than cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, or diabetes. Mental illness alone will account for more than half of the projected total economic burden from non-communicable diseases over the next two decades and 35% of the global lost output. Considering that those with mental illness are at high risk for developing cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and diabetes, the true costs of mental illness must be even higher.3
National Institute of Mental Health. (2011, September 28). Director’s Blog: The Global Cost of Mental Illness [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/director/2011/the-global-cost-of-mental-illness.shtml
This art work has been an exploration into the experience of mental illness, fighting the invisible enemy, and the many frustrations that come with it.  I have created an illness character, embodied in this dark figure, because to fight it, we need to see it.
  • Both ‘Deluge’ and ‘Storm’ are about depression: being unable to feel joy in any experience.
  • ‘Unwinding’ is about feeling out of control of one’s mind or thoughts.  The illness will take what it wants and leave you with very little left.
  • ‘That’s Mine’ is about loss.  The loss of the future you had hoped for.  The loss of relationships because you can’t do what needs to be done to keep them.  The loss of self as the illness changes you.  And the will to fight that loss with determination and discipline.
  • ‘Distillation’ and ‘Alchemy’ are about finding medication that works.  It is so very much like putting lead in a beaker, distilling it and hoping you get gold.
  • ‘Imbalance’ is about the frustrations and side effects of medications.   Often medications for anxiety makes you sleepy or dull.  Medications for depression can make you feel apathetic or flat: by trying to keep your chemistry from dipping too low it also limits how joyful you can feel.
  • ‘Old Friend’ finds one having accepted the current reality.  That this illness has been and will be hanging around for a while. It can be and must be lived with.
  • ‘I’m Fine’ is a piece about how mental illness is perceived by our society and what is going on inside.  This piece was a collaboration between myself and a family member who wrote the text.
  • ‘Worries Blind Us’ show the frustration of how anxiety can blind us.  It causes to enter fight or flight, which happens in our reptilian brain.  We can no longer access the frontal lobe where are capacity to problem solve comes from.

Mental illness is an invisible enemy which changes our inner workings.  Perhaps it is time to stop saying “I’m Fine” and start saying “I have anxiety and I am having a tough day.”   Those who suffer and those who care for them need to speak out, when able, to paint the picture for others who can’t see these illnesses.

To fight it we need to see it.

1. “Data on behavioral health in the United States.” American Psychological Association, www.apa.org/helpcenter/data-behavioral-health.aspx.

Paintings by Al-Abboud

“Eternal Presence”

The December 2017/January 2018 show will feature the work of local painter Al-Abboud. Working primarily in acrylics, he creates complex and textural pieces reminiscent of mosaic tile work and often incorporating texts and symbols.

Artist Statement:

After spending two years as an architecture student, I realized that I wanted to be an artist instead of an architect as my family wished, even though it meant burning bridges and relinquishing emotional and financial support. I accepted the sacrifice as a price all artists must endure. I then forged into a new way of living as an artist.
Although I had changed my major, those early years studying architecture came to influence my artwork, which reflects the discipline of geometric patterns within which complex messages can be discovered. Duchamp’s cubist-style “Nude Descending Staircase” and Dali’s “Madonna” inspired me to create images that change according to distance and angle, not unlike one’s evolving perspective of the world across time and space. Such perspective invokes wonder, invites questioning and raises the consciousness of the viewer.
My detailed work is done with acrylic paint except for a brief experimentation with screen-printing, which was influenced by my career as a graphic artist. Working with acrylics fits my style while serving a practical function as I work over the entire canvas and need it to dry fast. Literature, music and travel provide a never-ending source of inspiration.

Images of Dissent

The March/April 2017 show will feature powerful photographs documenting movements, political protests, and community actions. The three sets of photographs in the show are very different from each other, but all bear witness to the power of the people to rise up against unjust authority and oppression.

Artists and Curators:

Revolution UkraineEsse Quam Videri of Typonexus brought together a collection of images captured by six different photographers during the Ukrainian uprising of 2014, also known as the Euromaidan Revolution (Революція гідностіRevoliutsiia hidnosti). Each of the images in the collection shows an intimate proximity to intense conflict during a significant period of history in the Ukraine.

Naomi IshisakaNaomi Ishisaka has been documenting the powerful imagery of Black Lives Matter protests in the greater Puget Sound region over the past several years. Each of her photographs is striking individually, and together they form a well-documented overview of movement and momentum in the streets.

Alex GarlandLast year Alex Garland spent three days at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, documenting the protests led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe against construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through their tribal lands.

NOTE: 20% of the gross income from this show will go directly to the ACLU of Washington.

A Day With(out) Art

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On December 1, 2016, as part of the yearly nationwide “a Day With(out) Art” the gallery will screen COMPULSIVE PRACTICE, an hour-long presentation curated by Visual AIDS. COMPULSIVE PRACTICE will be looped continuously in the Gallery from 10:00am to 8:00pm.

Day Without Art launched on December 1, 1989 as “a day of action and mourning” in which thousands of arts institutions and organizations around the world unified together to demonstrate the power of art to raise awareness of the ongoing AIDS pandemic. In 1998, for its 10th anniversary, Day Without Art became Day With(out) Art. Visual AIDS added the parentheses to highlight the ongoing inclusion of art projects focused on the AIDS pandemic, and to encourage programming of artists living with HIV.

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For the 2016 Day With(out) Art, December 1, 2016, Visual AIDS presents COMPULSIVE PRACTICE, a video compilation of compulsive, daily, and habitual practices by nine artists and activists who live with their cameras and have been deeply affected by HIV/AIDS. This hour-long video program has been distributed internationally to museums, art institutions, schools and AIDS service organizations.

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From video diaries to civil disobedience, holiday specials and backstage antics, Betamax to YouTube, COMPULSIVE PRACTICE displays a diversity of artistic approaches, experiences, and expectations. The compulsive video practices of these artists serve many purposes—cure, treatment, outlet, lament, documentation, communication—and have many tones—obsessive, driven, poetic, neurotic, celebratory. COMPULSIVE PRACTICE will demonstrate the place of technology, self-expression, critique, and community in the many decades and the many experiences of artists and activists living with AIDS.

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COMPULSIVE PRACTICE is curated by Jean Carlomusto, Alexandra Juhasz, and Hugh Ryan. Participating video makers and artists include James Wentzy, Nelson Sullivan (1948-1989), Ray Navarro (1964-1990), Carol Leigh aka Scarlot Harlot, Juanita Mohammed, Luna Luis Ortiz, Mark S. King, Justin B. Terry-Smith, and the Southern AIDS Living Quilt.

Visual AIDS utilizes art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue, supporting HIV+ artists and preserving a legacy, because AIDS is not over.

More information is available on the Visual AIDs website.

Darius X: A Boy Named Soo

Darius X, Self-Made Man, ©2015
Darius X, Self-Made Man, Linoleum Block Print, ©2015

October’s show is a remounting of Darius X’s “A Boy Named Soo,” which was presented for the first time at Gallery 4Culture last February. This group of linoleum block prints created over a 12-year period represents an extensive exploration of the various intersecting elements of the artist’s personal identity: trans-racial Korean adoptee, trans* man, Queer Person of Color, Asian-American, resident of the Pacific Northwest.

Artist Bio: Darius X fell in love with the craft of linoleum block printing when he took an art class at his Tacoma, WA high school. He finds inspiration from traditional Japanese woodblock artists, modern pop artists as well as his natural surroundings and communities in the Pacific Northwest. His artwork has been featured on the cover on the Adoptee activist anthology “Adoptionland: From Orphans to Activists” by the Vance Twins. He has shown work throughout the Pacific northwest and in S. Korea. He has been a teaching artist at the Wing Luke Asian American Museum. He was a member of IDEA Odyssey Art Gallery, a visual arts collective promoting cultural diversity, community and economic development in the International District. In 2003, he co-founded the Queer People of Color Liberation Project (QPOC LP) and created a mixed media performance series that focused on racial and gender oppression. He has studied at School of Visual Concepts, Seattle Central Community College and University of Washington.

The show will be up for the entire month of October. Join us for the artist reception on October 6th, during the B-Town Beat Art & Music Walk.