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Since my childhood, I have been struggling with mental issues. It was not until college that I was clinically diagnosed with a severe anxiety and depression disorder. I was 10 years old when I first felt suicidal, and 12 years old when I had my first panic attack. I always felt so isolated, scared, and exhausted. I would not find out until much later in life that these feelings I have are much more common than I thought, and in fact, run in my family.

Since the start of this project, I knew I wanted my focus to be mental health and body positivity. Before college, I was lost, and completely out of touch with myself. I came to realize that you are the only person who can create your own happiness. You will live with yourself for the rest of your life. You might as well enjoy being with that person, and learning to love the skin you are in forever.

Flowers are beautiful and one of a kind, like all of us. They sprout, grow, bloom, wilt, and die. Just like humans. At many points in my life, I felt like my mental disorders had me wilted and ugly. I thought there was nowhere for me here on earth. I wanted to inspire others to love themselves through their most difficult and dark times. If you do not, your insecurities and issues will consume you and your every thought. I wanted to showcase the raw emotion of being depressed, anxious, and the severity of them at times. Through the use of digital manipulation, I created flower-headed people to mask the models identities, but to also add emotion and meaning to that specific flower.

It is silly to think a picture and some words can save you, but they saved me several times. The mantras behind my illustrations are sayings that have helped me through my life. I tell myself these mantras in times of fear or doubt in order to get through the day or week. If you practice these sayings during your times of need, you will learn to grow from them, and start blooming once again. Others can use them and apply them to what they may be going through at the time. My work will inspire many, and possibly even save some.

The reason behind photographing my models nude, was because I wanted to bare it all. Depression is a very raw, emotional disorder that affects everyone differently. During the photoshoots, I had my models get into a very dark mindset. I asked them what their biggest insecurities were, what made them stressed, what caused their depression. I took them back to a state to inflict a pose that would capture the essence of these disorders.

I knew I wanted to produce various nature landscapes for this series, because I find that in nature I yearn to grow. It lifts my spirits, calms my soul, and betters my health. Submerging myself in nature provokes creativity and deeper thoughts. I know my pieces will do the same for others.

By the end of this show, I hope my art work will provide the public the opportunity to reflect on what one goes through with these disorders. If one is currently struggling with severe anxiety or depression, my hope is that it will inspire and uplift them. The goal is to keep going and keep growing.

Madeleine Cook

November 2019


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