Mental Health Awareness Week

Illustrated conversations about Mental Health by Zoe-Emma

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Art - and especially visual art - is widely recognised as expressive of conditions of mind in how it reflects everyday life experiences. However, those suffering from mental health issues can often find it difficult to grapple or convey these experiences, and it is here that illustrator Zoe-Emma hopes to shed some light.

The 20-year-old artist, who only began illustrating last year, hopes to open up conversations about mental health, drawing greater attention and sensitivity to such matters, which in turn helps support and provide solace for those who suffer from mental health problems. Because it is more ‘invisible’ than physical health problems, they are often overlooked as being less credible, which often leads to sufferers of mental health problems to feel isolated and unable to address their distress.  

Her candid yet quiet illustrations are distinctive, usually featuring two characters: a plain, many-eyed black figure, according to Zoe-Emma, representative of ‘mental health itself’, and a human-like character with one eye and a face mask, ‘the sufferer’. The scenarios in which these two figures interact become metaphors of how one deals with psychological or emotional issues.

Most strikingly though, her work remains human, despite their often surreal or abstract aesthetic. Because of its simplicity, the illustrations resonate with the everyday and with everyone: the scenarios she depicts are instantly relatable, helping to navigate the complex issues surrounding mental health.

Zoe-Emma believes that mental health is becoming less of a taboo subject, and states that through her art, aims to address the universal yet personal nature of mental health problems, where “I hope the viewer feels a connection with one or both of my characters and is able to understand them in their own way.”

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Take a look at her work on her website here.

Words by Jasmine Wong and originally published on SoulGraze.