The artist showcases on kdoutsiderart aim to bring new and emerging artists into the spotlight. This time, I’ve asked Amanda Weckwerth a few questions about her work and her life as an artist. If you’d like to share your work on this blog, please email email@example.com.
When did your interest in art/creating begin?
Although my initial interest in creating art began in high school – in art class – I became hooked on using the arts to depict my personal experiences with mental health and the stigma resulting from such issues. I only began creating at the age of 24 when I completed my Bachelors in Psychology and a friend of mine bought me a cheap child’s art kit. Over the years I realized the healing power of the arts in dealing with intense emotions and the deleterious effects of stigma.
What is the starting point for each piece?
Because I dabble in multiple art forms the origins for each type of art vary. Take for example my pastels; when I feel strong negative emotions or hurt resulting from differential treatment I immediately grab my pastels and pad of paper. Before creating any image I take a moment to stop and think about how I can best capture my emotions through visual mediums. For the most part I am driven by a need to make the internal external. Paintings and anti-stigma posters are planned when I am experiencing strong emotions but are created once I have gathered needed art supplies.
Who/what influences your work?
As mentioned, my work is influenced by my current mental state (extreme moods, or hurt resultant of differential treatment) and how I believe I can best capture and convey my experiences. There is the odd time however where what I believe to be a cool idea pops into my head and may or may not be related to my state of mind. I have a flare for the strange and unusual and try not to be influenced by the work of others. In general I do not create art with the intention to sell although I would like to sell more pieces.
What do you hope the viewer gets from your work?
I can only hope that my art allows others to understand a number of things. My anti-stigma pictures are meant to make others aware or to strike a personal chord related to the negative impacts stigma, stereotyping and differential treatment have on those who suffer from mental health and addictions. With regard to pastels I hope to create an awareness of the lived experience of having mental health issues and addictions; or, to provide a unique insight into the world of the oppressed. With regard to my paintings I hope to engage the minds of those with an appreciation of the strange and unusual.
What do you think of the term outsider art? Is there a term that you think works better?
These are very good questions; I certainly feel and am treated as an outsider so the term seems fitting. Nonetheless, I feel that the term inadvertently creates an “us and them” mentality. Perhaps a better term might be “Experiential Art.”
What are you working on at the moment?
With regard to mental health and the arts I am working with a local art gallery to develop an outsider art collective devoted to educating our community. My current art piece – which I admits sounds – strange is to use plaster rolls to obtain a mould of my body parts which I will adhere to a canvas as large as myself. I want to create a woman coming out of the canvas. I hope no one knocks on my door when I am plastering myself; how do you explain what the hell you are doing?
Where do you see your work taking you in the future?
Maybe it will lead me to the “looney bin” (again); just kidding. Possessing little knowledge of the art world but knowing how hard it is to get recognition, I dream of having the opportunity to share my art on a large scale; namely for the purpose of educating the public (via the creation of bold yet heart felt pieces) about the realities of mental health and stigma. I’d love to make my living making art but know how hard it can be. I’d like to combine my educational assets (Masters in Community Psychology) with experiential knowledge/creativity for the purposes of mental health advocacy and stigma reduction. I can only hope but to use my art for public awareness given the opportunity.