Brooklyn

Artists and Mental Illness Interview Series: Ilana Simons

Artists and Mental Illness Interview Series: Ilana Simons

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.

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Artists and Mental Illness Interview Series: Shira Erlichman

Artists and Mental Illness Interview Series: Shira Erlichman

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.

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Talking Paper Interview Series: Lauren Bilanko

Talking Paper Interview Series: Lauren Bilanko

Lauren Bilanko co-owns and operates fantasy games outlet Twenty Sided Store (TSS) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In April 2016, she and co-owner Luis Chato will celebrate five years of serving customers from their storefront at 362 Grand Street, and providing a friendly backroom space to players of Magic: The GatheringDungeons & DragonsSettlers of Catan, and other games. Those loyal customers generated enough word of mouth to earn TSS the title of "Best Game Shop in New York City" from the Village Voice in 2014. Following a store expansion, Bilanko collaborated with Nomadic Press to present The Backroom Theater music / reading / film showcase in December 2015 within the refurbished gaming space. In advance of the TSS five-year anniversary, I interviewed Bilanko about her business, some of the popular games she sells, and the enduring popularity of tactile games crafted from paper and cardboard.

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Artists and Mental Illness Interview Series: Bassey Ikpi

Artists and Mental Illness Interview Series: Bassey Ikpi

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.

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Artists and Mental Illness Interview Series: Timothy Hyunsoo Lee

Artists and Mental Illness Interview Series: Timothy Hyunsoo Lee

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.

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Talking Paper Interview Series: Molly Templeton

Talking Paper Interview Series: Molly Templeton

Molly Templeton is events director at WORD bookstore, with locations at 126 Franklin Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and 128 Newark Avenue in downtown Jersey City, New Jersey. Since taking the position in February 2015 (after nearly two years as the store’s outreach manager), Templeton has organized author readings at both locations, as well as numerous off-site events. She also finds time to review films as a freelance critic for the Eugene Weekly in her home state of Oregon—the same publication where she served for nearly five years as arts and music editor. I interviewed Templeton in Brooklyn WORD’s downstairs space about her approach to booking author readings, their benefit to writers, and other aspects of speaking written words for an audience.

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Kent Avenue Interview Series: René Sascha Johannsen

Kent Avenue Interview Series: René Sascha Johannsen

René Sascha Johannsen is a Brooklyn-based documentary filmmaker and photographer. A youthful love of skateboarding and playing drums in bands in his native Denmark helped inspire his current pursuits of moving portraits of both gritty street skaters and emerging music stars. Later, post-school leisure trips to Australia and Austria led to his first professional destination-shot documentary—following young snowboarders tackling the slopes of Whistler in western Canada. That was followed by documentary work in locales such as Haiti, Tunisia, Russia, The Gaza Strip and North Korea, where he served as cameraman and editor for Mads Brügger’s 2009 film, The Red Chapel.

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Kent Avenue Interview Series: Christo Holloway

Kent Avenue Interview Series: Christo Holloway

Christo Holloway is a designer, model maker, and photographer who has forged a long career crafting three-dimensional objects for all manner of clients through his Brooklyn-based company, Clockwork Apple. With top-notch work on photographed print advertising campaigns, television network “bumpers,” complicated cinematic shots, and commissioned projects of all shapes and sizes, Holloway has risen to the top of a rarified industry that specializes in creating tactile things. It’s also an expensive one, and the financial demands of keeping Holloway’s shop going have finally become too much. So with the approach of Clockwork Apple’s closure (and the owner joining forces with his biggest rival), I visited its amazingly versatile space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard with photographer Randall Bellows III for a tour of the machinery, finished products, and a library full of reference books and issues of Popular MechanicsLife magazine and National Geographic.

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