Alessandra Guth

In this fast paced world, it seems the issues of mental health disorders are becoming more prominent yet overlooked. As an artist living with the disability of Bipolar 1 disorder, I feel it is my responsibility to display the phases of brain chemistry that someone like myself must cope with. Living in this strenuous society, I have no time for breaks to restabilize. Time keeps going and mood swings continue to fluctuate without reason. This body of work addresses  the stark contrast in my headspace, and seeks to challenge the viewer to think critically what it would be like to wake up each day having to accept depression, sedation, or mania.

Three 8 8 ft. mixed media paintings on canvas stretched over panels are included in this series. The first canvas represents depression—depicting emotions ranging from sadness and loneliness to suicidal tendencies. This state of being is a dark place where there is no motivation or enjoyment of life. This canvas portrays the utter darkness and simplicity. The numbers are calls for help or support, as sometimes this is the only thing that provides relief.

The next canvas depicts my mind when medications are at play. This mindset is what doctors see as the ideal level for those with Bipolar disorder, yet it often dulls the range of emotions and personally makes me feel like a walking zombie. This piece is a commentary on how drugs meant to fix an issue can also hurt - often in ways that healthy people cannot understand. Being medicated creates a space for me to focus and maybe even capable of taking on daily tasks, but it also leaves me feeling empty and sometimes lifeless. I wonder which is better: to risk depression and accept mania, or to be numbed by drugs?

The final canvas contains vibrant colors and lively paint application that represents manic behavior. Oftentimes, mania is what people like me strive to achieve and hold on to. The mood makes you feel like anything is possible, that life is at your fingertips and nothing can stop you. This piece also depicts the out of control behavior maniac episodes can bring. I put less care into the structure and colors because when I create in this manic phase, I create with whatever I have. Then I used my body to print forms as a way to  replicate the drive to pour myself into whatever great idea I have, whatever the cost. Mania is fun, but it can be dangerous.

To publicly exhibit stigmatized mental health diagnosis is daunting, yet liberating. It is my hope that after seeing this body of work, you will begin in dialog about mental health. Maybe some people will learn, maybe some will divulge their own mental health disability. There is no reason for shame, but there is reason for awareness.

This is my brain, living with Bipolar 1.

Call for Help
8’ x 8’
House paint, ink, and cement on canvas

Serenity Dosage
8’ x 8’
Acrylic, ink, and plaster on canvas

2020 Got Smiles?
8’ x 8’
Mixed media on canvas 

Alessandra Guth lives in southern California and has lived in Malibu, CA while studying art at Pepperdine University.  The work she creates is abstract and based on impulse, which is inspired by her values, and her personal life. Color plays a key role in conveying emotions in the pieces she creates.

In 2019, Alessandra’s creative body of work exhibited in the Junior Studios exhibition entitled, round up escaped elephants, received quite a bit of press due to issues surrounding censorship.  The body of work included seven photos on canvas of nude women - female Pepperdine students, including herself - framed in steel and wire depicting the seven deadly sins. The body of work sought to push the barriers of Pepperdine University’s Christian values. Articles about this body of work appeared in the Pepperdine Graphic, the Chronicle of Higher Ed, and the National Coalition for Art Censorship. Alessandra exhibits at Tracy Park Gallery where she has also been an intern there since 2019. She is also a member of the Malibu Art Association.