How Do the Arts Affect Your Mental Health? Part 4

Part four of a four part series

We’re over halfway done with our mental health and the arts series! Wow. Just a few more disciplines to go!

This week, I sat down with Cate Simmons, a senior visual. She has incredibly talent and seeing her art at visual showcases is super interesting! She has a great passion in her craft.

It was so exciting to sit with Cate and talk about mental health from the visual standpoint.

Cate Simmons is originally from Meridian, Mississippi.

Abigail: What’s a work that you saw many years ago that has moved you? For example, the way Mona Lisa’s eyes follow you.

Cate: Every Christmas (with the exception of last Christmas) is spent with my grandparents in Birmingham. And every year on December 26, my grandfather and I take a trip to the Birmingham Museum of Art. We’re two very different people who see the world in very different ways. But one thing we do have in common is our shared appreciation for the arts and our sentiments toward a particular painting hanging in the museum. It’s a huge piece called Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California that was painted in 1865 by Albert Bierstadt. To us, it almost has a magical element to it; as if you could just step into the frame and immerse yourself in Yosemite’s dramatic landscape. I’ve seen a lot of paintings in my eighteen years, but that one has a special place in my heart because it reminds me of my grandfather.

Abigail: Do you ever put the state of your mental health on the canvas?

Cate: I didn’t create many pieces that symbolized my emotions until recently. Over the past few years, I’ve been constantly growing and evolving, and my art has definitely reflected that. I have always been an emotional person, but I have a tendency to just ignore my feelings. But throughout the past nine months or so, I’ve been trying to express my emotions in a healthier way and channeling them through my art has helped a lot. During quarantine, I made a lot of paintings like that, which are now part of an ever-growing pile of watercolor pictures that no one will ever see. I am drawing and painting 95% of the time, and the art that I post on Instagram and display on campus is a very small percentage of the things I create.

Abigail: Is there a piece you’ve created that has affected you mentally?

Cate: A few months ago, I painted a ribcage with diamond necklaces and a black heart. I know that sounds weird, but it works. I feel as if a common pattern throughout my life me is trying to seek out the positive aspects of negative situations. So, I took that idea and thought, “I’m going to paint something that people usually consider to be weird or creepy, and try to bring out the beauty in it.” That piece also conveys the saying, “money can’t buy happiness”. It took me a while to do, but the hard work definitely paid off because for the first time in forever, I actually liked my art. I know it sounds a little corny, but it felt great to finally find my voice, my artistic style, and the theme to my senior showcase all at once. The feeling of being proud of what you create is incredible.

Thank you, Cate, for being such an amazing interviewee!

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