'Making art has the ability to help me mentally'

Emerson is a music photographer from Cincinnati (OH). She started taking photos to help her memory, documenting important things, people and events. This personal interest slowly grew into a career.

Mental health is an important topic to Emerson. It is the reason behind her art. “My entrance into the photography realm actually ties in with my mental health. Several years ago, I was taking an antidepressant that ended up messing with my memory, specifically short-term. I would get so frustrated or embarrassed because I couldn't remember the simplest things I had just heard or thought of. Because of this, I started documenting important things, people, and events in my life to better remember them, simply as a hobby or for personal use.”

“People kept telling me I had the eye for visuals, and eventually, I started to believe them”

What started as a hobby grew into something more. Emerson says she creates art now to inspire others, to make them think. Taking photos is something she does professionally now, mainly concert photography. Emerson: “People kept telling me I had the eye for visuals, and eventually, I started to believe them and pursued photography professionally, thankfully.”

Fuelling her art

Mental health is something she still struggles with at times, as most artists do. Emerson: “I think some creatives struggle with mental health issues because they create and other creatives create because of their struggles, and there are creatives that are a hybrid of both, including myself.” Emerson says she has created artistic concepts from her experiences with depression and anxiety. Her feelings have fueled her art. But being an artist, is something she struggles with. “Thinking of myself as an ‘artist’ can be a tough thing to wrestle with, knowing so many people look down upon the occupation, and can cause my self-esteem to plummet.”

Being in control

No matter the struggle, making art helps her. When she feels the freedom to create, her mind is benefited by it. Emerson: “Making art has the ability to help me mentally, but only if I'm not being forced to do it by someone else, such as a professor or employer. When I feel that I have full creative control and as much time as I allow myself, it is very cathartic and pleasing.”

“Happiness to me means being completely comfortable and content being your full self”

The feeling of being in control, be it creatively or in general, is also something Emerson views as being at the center of feeling happy. “Happiness to me means being completely comfortable and content being your full self and choosing to express yourself in any way you'd like.” To others like her, she’d like to advise to be yourself. “Know your worth, and never stop pushing toward your goals despite what the people around you say or do.”

This interview is part of a series of interviews with artists about mental health in light of the upcoming festival Atlas Black. For more information about Atlas Black, go to: https://www.secretmidnightpress.com/atlasblack

Lieke Ruesink