Ilana Simons is an artist and clinical psychologist currently based in New York. She has produced many short animations, featured in Hyperallergic, Electric Literature, and the Sundance Film Festival, and is the writer of A Life of One’s Own: A Guide to Better Living through the Work and Wisdom of Virginia Woolf. In August 2016, Simons performed her play, All Together Now, a multimedia solo show that premiered as part of the FringeNYC festival. The play involves an intimate, immersive experience, in which a small audience of twenty lies in a handmade tent, while Simons projects videos onto the ceiling and narrates. She explores her memories, the house she grew up in, her love, her divorce -- and, ultimately, how she came to make things, and see things, as she does today.
Simons sat down to speak with me shortly before a 3-month trip to work with refugees in Greece. In this variation on the Artists and Mental Illness interview series, she offers her perspectives as a woman both psychologist and artist, whose story is a unique mix of cerebral, vulnerable, eclectic, and raw. Read More
Caits Meissner is an award-winning poet, artist, and educator dedicated to the transformative power of creation. Meissner’s poetry has been featured in Drunken Boat, The Literary Review, and The Offing, among many others, and she has been awarded first place prizes from the Pan-African Literary Forum, the Ja-Nai Foundation, and City College's The Jerome Lowell DeJur Prize in Creative Writing. Her multidisciplinary poetry book, Let It Die Hungry, will be released in October 2016 on The Operating System, and she is currently writing with Re(Emergent) Theatre, an ensemble in collaboration with people recently released from prison. She teaches as Writer-in-Residence at Bronx Academy of Letters, and faculty at City College and The New School. Meissner’s courage, like her art, is both nuanced and full of love. In this interview, she shares her experiences with belonging, identity, healing—and what it means to grapple with grey. Read More
Born in Israel and based in Brooklyn, Shira Erlichman is a nationally acclaimed poet, singer-songwriter, and visual artist. Passionate and prolific, Erlichman is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and has shared stages with TuNe-YaRdS, Mirah, Coco Rosie, and Andrea Gibson. She has been awarded two residences: the James Merrill Fellowship at Vermont Studio Center and the Millay Colony Residency. She is finishing up her first book, Odes to Lithium. Her work has been featured in The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed Reader, BUST Magazine, and Winter Tangerine Review, among others. Her upcoming album, Subtle Creature, will be released in August 2016. Of her work, poet Ocean Vuong says, "Shira shows me that the mind's sanity is relative, but its beauty is total." In this interview, Erlichman shares her journey navigating Bipolar Disorder with brutal and intricate honesty. Read More
Bassey Ikpi is a Nigerian-born poet, writer, spoken word artist, and mental health advocate. She has been a cast member of Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam and is the founder of The Siwe Project, a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote mental health awareness throughout the global black community. Both Ikpi's work and her advocacy reflect passion and social consciousness, woven together with raw and fervent honesty. In this interview, Ikpi shared with me her story. Read More
Timothy Hyunsoo Lee is a watercolor artist based in Brooklyn, New York, currently represented by Sabrina Amrani Gallery, and is the recipient of the VSA Emerging Young Artist Award (2014) as well as the International Emerging Artist Award in Dubai. Born in Seoul, South Korea, but raised in Queens, Lee grew up in the midst of many debilitating conflicts. Navigating the clash between his American and Korean heritages as well as his identity as someone who has suffered from a panic and anxiety disorder since childhood, Lee's art has become a means of exploring, reconciling, and ultimately coexisting with conflict. His primary artistic technique is both ethereal and obsessive, and reflects the duality between the chaos of his anxiety versus the airy, meditative beauty he produces. I spoke with Lee about his personal journey unearthing the psychological challenges he's faced, combating the stigma against them, and how they ultimately led to where he stands as a professional artist today. Read More