Olivia Skelton is a graphic designer from Colorado who is graduating from UNC in 2020. Much of her work centers around photography and illustration.
For this series created in my printmaking class, I made three woodblock relief prints relating to the same theme. The prompt for our woodblock prints was focused on an internal struggle, and I chose to focus on my experiences with mental health. Throughout my life, I have struggled with instances of depression and anxiety.
These prints were a way for me to reflect on my past and illustrate aspects of my life that ground me and keep me rooted. In my woodblock prints, I portrayed different activities I have as part of my life that I find calm anxiety and bring a sense of peace. My print was a botanical theme, reflecting a hobby that I enjoy which is growing house plants. I find it peaceful to have an apartment filled with plants, and it is a personal reminder to me of growth.
My process in creating the drawing for the prints was to illustrate something that is calming to me filled with more anxious energy through multiple, short strokes. In an art history class I took while at UNC, we discussed Van Gogh, both his personal life filled with struggles of mental health and his style of painting which featured somewhat anxious, energetic strokes that give the piece the effect that it is moving. I admire Van Gogh because he continued to create artwork that was meaningful despite struggling with his mental health.
With the first print, I illustrated the plant theme to capture something I find calming in contrast with these more anxious strokes and texture. For the rest of my series, I focused on topics that included relaxing with my dog Taz and hiking or spending time in nature. Both of these I find calming and depicted them with a texture that tries to capture the viewpoint of someone looking at it with anxiety.
Often during an anxiety attack it’s hard to visually focus; it almost feels as though you are experiencing tunnel vision and that the world is moving. By portraying the images with this texture, I wanted to create a juxtaposition within a piece that is representational of the complexities of a mental state of health. I also wanted to openly create a series that was honest about my experiences as a way to combat the stigma surrounding and discussing mental health.
Skelton, Olivia, "Tunnel Vision" (2020). 2020 Annual Student Exhibition. 45.