I just had my first solo art exhibition “Identity Theft” at Artbeat Studio in Winnipeg. In this body of work I explored how mental illness is the biggest thief of all when it comes to identity theft.
My portraits, rendered in vibrant colored frenzied brush strokes, speak to the disconnection between the body and mind associated with mental illness and personified and amplified in the growing human connection to technology. How can we embrace the future and protect our past? Where can we hide? Who can we trust? Can this new technology protect us?
My portraits capture fear, sadness, panic and loss; the chaos that can be my mind and/or the absurdities of a technology-dependent lifestyle.
A few of my paintings and my “Funky Town” series of raku and electric fired pieces in puzzle tiles highlight the dichotomy between the connected and disconnected realities of the urban environment we live in – tight, congested with buildings many stories high. Without technology, these are but vacuous caves; not far removed from our ancestors.
I come kicking and screaming into this new reality. As a woman and an artist who has struggled with mental illness for much of my adult life and with the stigma that mental illness carries, I know how damaging one’s private information can be in the wrong hands.
Today I do not hide my illness, but for years I lived in fear that friends, lovers and co-workers might discover my secret. Now I am in the open. Take me as I am. Now I fight for the right to be respected, to be heard.
Nora Turenne – artist, vice-chair of Arts & Disability Network Manitoba