Exhibition: Believe

Women In Recovery BELIEVE 2012 postcard


April 18- June 1, 2012

Opening Reception Wednesday, April 18 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Chanika Svetvilas  Jackie Rovner  Elizabeth Beittel  “AM-DDB”

Fresh A.I.R. Gallery

131 N. High St.

When I thought of the original working title for this group exhibition, “Women

in Recovery,” I considered what recovery meant to me. In some ways “recovery”

weighs with just as much stigma as the label of mental illness. In order for there

to be recovery, there has to be a trauma, illness or breakdown to recover from.

We are left with the binary between illness and wellness. However, I see recovery

as an ongoing process that we all undergo as human beings in this world as

transformative experiences.

I had my third bipolar manic episode in Columbus, OH that manifested as

auditory hallucinations, delusion, and paranoia that led me to hospitalization

from September 29 to October 8, 2010. Then severe debilitating side effects that

encumbered my ability to walk and talk, slowed my recovery. When I finally was

able to fully participate as a candidate in my MFA art program at The Ohio State

University – the reason why I arrived to Columbus, OH in the first place, I was told

that I would not be allowed to continue to my enrollment as a result of my

behavior. My ability to have distance from my work to actually create was in doubt.

This final indignity of my mental competence called into question was the ultimate

psychological trauma. However, all of these traumas allowed me to build up,

become stronger, self reflect and adhere to my values. In my performance captured

on video, I confront my trauma and way of being that is uniquely me.

I hope that by sharing my recovery, others will feel compelled to share theirs.

Silence can be deafening. I once said that I felt like a silent screaming siren. By

letting go of the pain, there is no longer only the struggle, but the strength of

survival. That is what I hope you hear.

~ Chanika Svetvilas




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