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Detroit Workshop: "When Art Makes You Lose Your Mind"

  • Detroit Fiber Works 19359 Livernois Avenue Detroit, MI, 48221 United States (map)
“The Ethical Parable,” by permission, Patricia Izzo Photography, copyright 2017

When Art Makes You Lose Your Mind

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In these tumultuous times, artists are not only responding to internal demons, but external, socio-political ones as well. All of these muses are fraught with inherent mental stress. When you are motivated to dig deeper than ever before to deliver urgent art—even at the expense of your own mental health—who will witness the witness?

This workshop is for those who are undertaking art that is forcing them to encounter deep-seated personal/social/political pain, grief, fear and/or anger. While art often touches these emotions, there are times when an artist feels compelled to express them before the emotions have been harnessed, processed or even survived. There are times when the artist is creating art about a shipwreck while the ship is sinking. At other times, a seemingly dispassionate work may strike an unexpected vein of emotion that is difficult to manage while continuing to create.

Artists in all genres who are having difficulty balancing their art with their mental health will benefit from this exploration. Panelists will address the pitfalls of creativity and mental health, and how they coped while delivering emotionally wrenching projects. THIS WILL NOT BE A THERAPY SESSION to discuss personal traumas and/or specific mental health diagnses. This session is about how to survive the deep cut of artmaking, and how to preserve sanity when doing your hardest work.

Panelists: Desiree Cooper (fiction/memoir), Sherina Rodriquez (playwright), Kelly Fordon (poet), Debra Ann Brodie (licensed psychologist)

Desiree Cooper is a 2015 Kresge Artist Fellow, former attorney and Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist. Her debut collection of flash fiction, Know the Mother (Wayne State University Press, 2016), has won numerous awards, including a 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Award. The book explores the gender norms which press down upon women’s lives, especially the mantle of “mother.” Her current project is The Relative Past, a creative nonfiction book exploring intergenerational trauma. The book will interrogate the persistence of generational memory as her mother succumbs to Alzheimer’s, and how trauma is passed from mother to daughter.  

Kelly Fordon’s work has appeared in The Florida Review, The Kenyon Review (KRO), Rattle and various other journals. She is the author of three poetry chapbooks. The first, On the Street Where We Live, won the 2012 Standing Rock Chapbook Award. Her latest chapbook, The Witness, is a collection of poems based upon the testimonies of SNAP members (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests). The Witness won the 2016 Eric Hoffer Award for the Chapbook and was shortlisted for the Grand Prize. Her novel-in-stories, Garden for the Blind, deals with the issues of classism and racism in a majority-white community. It was chosen as a Michigan Notable Book, a 2016 Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Finalist, a Midwest Book Award Finalist, an Eric Hoffer Finalist, and an IPPY Awards Bronze Medalist. She works for The College for Creative Studies, Springfed Arts and The InsideOut Literary Arts Project in Detroit.

Sherina Rodriguez Sharpe is a Cave Canem Fellow and a 2014 Kresge Artist Fellow in Theatre/Film. With her 2015 play, "On Becoming Unfukwitable," she forged new dramatic territory with a searing insight into how a daughter transcends molestation by her father. The production blends healing practices and multiple genres to create a group story-telling experience. Her ability to create a safe space for survivors makes “Unfukwitable” an insightful, evocative, liberating and transformative experience. 

Debra Ann Brodie, PhD is a fully-licensed, Detroit psychologist who integrates psychodynamic theory (for increasing awareness) with cognitive-behavioral techniques (for breaking the hold of old, previously helpful, cognitions). All of this is couched within the framework of positive psychology, the new science of thriving. She has been practicing for more than 30 years.