Dacia Hartman

My work explores the idea that the mental illnesses people experience does not define

who they are. My desire to explore this topic has come from my personal experience with

depression and anxiety, and how it has affected my siblings and close family members. These

experiences, as well as the current status of society’s opinion on mental health, play a big part

in the creation of my work.

I work with clay because clay is very malleable and is able to become more solid and

stronger through the firing process. Before it’s fired, clay is very frail: a fragile item that should

be handled carefully. Water can return it back to a lump of clay. The piece is still fragile after the

first firing, but when it goes through both trials of heat, it can become something durable and

can withstand the stresses of everyday life. This is a metaphor for people who suffer from

mental illness. I have felt very fragile when I have dealt with my own depression. Humans as a

whole are incredibly resilient and able to get past the stage of fragility. They become stronger

through their battles with illness. The illness is the firing, and through the firing the brain is the

vessel that becomes stronger.

Through my work I am trying to create a discussion about mental illness with everyone,

starting with my community. Currently, it is the norm to not talk about your mental health unless

it’s with a doctor, and that you are “broken” if you have a mental illness. I believe that one of the

biggest steps in healing and dealing with your mental illness is to talk with friends and family. I

am creating work that I hope allows viewers to think about how we are all very similar and we all

share similar struggles, but that it does not make us less unique or valued. Having a mental

illness should not be considered as being broken, but as a state that people go through and

sometimes continuously go into that state, but they come out the other side stronger from it.