In Jen Mann's most recent interview with CBC Arts she touches on a few topics such as: personal identity, relationships involving love and obsession over our significant others, why she does portraiture, and her use of using color within her work. All these things make her the fine artist she is and she thrives on making work that's very personal and about things she's going through in today's "selfie-obsessed" world.
Mann's previous work revolved around how she viewed herself when she was alone and comparing it to how she would present herself online and on social media. In that series she makes fun of herself, as well as, bring awareness to how people like to portray themselves on social media and the seriousness behind identity just as much as love and relationships.
Within doing portraiture, Mann says, "It's so much more than just painting someone's face, it's more about connecting with the person being portrayed and getting a sense of trying to understand them or the life they live". Her work is incorporated with understanding ourselves though others and the affect that has in our daily lives.
Mann touches on why she uses color in her work for the simple fact that it takes something out of the everyday but also conveys emotion with the audience and their personal experiences. She says "Color is the magic in the gray area", and she says that relating to the gray areas in life and how color is a way of bringing out the beauty within being in that gray area.
Mann inspires me to create work that's very personal to me as well as making good art work that you want to put out into the world. Even though painting is a personal gain and about me and my life, you still want to raise awareness with your work and start a conversation.
short film director
In this colorfully minimal and very personal short film, filmmaker Sindha Agha explains how she “lost track” of what she should actually be afraid of, and how she brought herself back to reality—with the help of an unlikely animal ritual of dealing with their fears. This short film that documented a young girl growing up to fear everything and gaining mental health issues showed me to question what exactly is considered a "safe place" and is everyone's different?
Agha starts the documentary expressing how as a young girl she was scared of random things like certain names and the thought of getting old overnight. And as she goes through puberty and develops to a young woman she develops insecurities with her body development and being in her own skin due to the abuse of it by others.
What stuck out to me the most is when she said she didn't consider her bedroom as a safe place and became scared of being in it. Throughout her fears, she developed having bad panic attacks and became confused as to what would be considered a safe place.
While not confronting her panic attacks dead on she would act or pretend to be a calm person in society and referenced it as the "perfect impression". And with learning more about the differences between humans and animals in her therapy sessions she realized that us as humans keep our fears secret while most animals like to shake after experiencing fear to relieve a stressful situation. Soon after she adopted this idea that when she would feel anxious she would just shake her fears off and everything will be fine. And that her anxiety became her safe space.
But that leads me to question, is our own mental health our safe space from reality?
poet & author
our bodies touched
by all the wrong people
that even in a bed full of safety
we are afraid
In this autobiographical book of poetry by Canadian Rupi Kaur, she dives into the experiences of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. Not only is Kaur a poet but she also is a writer, illustrator, and performer. And even in this dark book of poetry there's a sense of familiarity whether you're male or female. Because she talks a lot about growing up, abuse, love, etc. It just ticks all the boxes if you want to compare it to an emotional rollercoaster.
I put one of her poems next to the book title because that specific one stuck out to me when she references a bed of safety getting violated and abused by others. And that really tied back into my thought of what is considered a safe space and if it's different for everyone. It's something I should dive deeper into within my practice to really see different perspectives of what true safety feels like in the depths of being surrounded by darkness.
Maybe in retrospect, the place we consider or thought to be a point of safety is actually where our fears and terror come out and disturb those spaces.