On Tuesday, October 21, the launch of groundbreaking project Beautiful Distress takes place, from 6 to 9 pm at the Society of Illustrators. Based on a long running project in the Netherlands, The Beautiful Distress Foundation and Het Vijfde Seizoen (the Fifth Season) invite prominent artists to live and work in the Behavioral Health Center of Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, NY, for several months. The first to do so will be artist and photographer Annaleen Louwes. By absorbing and interpreting the realities of this world in their artwork, the Beautiful Distress Foundation seeks to lessen the stigma of mental illness.
The launch is presented by Wilco Tuinebreijer (president of the Beautiful Distress foundation and Medical Director of the Mental Health Department of Amsterdam) and Annaleen Louwes (artist-in-residence) followed by a panel discussion moderated by Jeanne Wikler, with Carlos Rodriguez, director of Wellness and Recovery at KCHC, Joe Schick, executive director at President’s Office of Special Projects, Health and Hospitals Corporation, and Rebecca Chamberlain and Guy Richards Smit, artist-in-residence at The Fifth Season.
The mentally ill experience
Beautiful Distress was founded on the concept that there is a great deal of mental suffering, that not enough people are aware of this and that not enough is done to stop it. The Foundation uses art in attempt to open the world of psychiatry and, as mentioned earlier, to battle the stigma attached to it.
By initiating and developing ideas and projects together with artists, and subsequently sharing them with the public, Beautiful Distress uses art to tell the stories of psychiatry to a large audience that does not come in contact with mental illness or psychiatry on a daily basis. Even though mental illness often evokes negative emotions it is also a source of creativity. By bringing those two world together, Beautiful Distress wishes to validate the world and experience of the mentally ill.