Adara JensenFollow




School of Visual and Performing Arts


Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art (MFA)


Christopher Phillips


Studio Art, Mental Illness, Mood Disorders, Family, Trauma, Art Therapy


Art and Design | Fine Arts | Psychology


Mood disorders, such as major depression and bipolar disorder negatively affect family dynamics, often resulting in trauma, antipathy, mistrust, and the breakdown in communication between the individual suffering from mood disorder and members of his or her family. The impact of mood disorder on family members impedes recovery for the person suffering from the disorder as well as the health and well-being of the family as a whole. Even emotionally healthy families suffer from the subsequent pain, trauma, isolation, and stigma. The project proposes a solution to broken or inhibited family communication: the engagement of all family members in healing conversation in response to their experience with interactive mixed media art. The expected outcome is that families will begin to communicate more effectively as the result of an increased understanding of differing perspectives and emotions, and a recognition of the value of giving and receiving social support to motivate methods of recovery. An additional anticipated outcome is the reduction of societal stigma against people who face the challenges of mood disorders and other mental illnesses. The journey to recovery and release from stigma requires a group effort by the affected individual and all family members and those working with them. Difficult decisions are made together to communicate well with one another, cope successfully, take medication, participate in psychotherapy, increase mental health literacy, promote positive attitudes towards mental health, and fight discrimination. In the process, health, hope and trust may be built and sustained.