Artist tackles mental health and suicide prevention

ArtPrize Nine, Door is Always Open, Daniel Carlson
The Door is Always Open by Daniel Carlson, displayed outside the Michigan State University Grand Rapids Research Center during ArtPrize Nine. (Sept. 20, 2017)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Over the course of the ArtPrize’s nine year history, there have been a lot of entries created with a cause.

ArtPrize Nine will be no different, as there will be a piece taking on the topic of mental illness and suicide prevention.

Artist Daniel Carlson created The Door is Always Open to illustrate how those struggling with mental illness can feel, which is being displayed at Michigan State University Grand Rapids Research Center at 400 Monroe NW.

The piece features a human-sized bird cage with a man trapped inside with the door wide open.

“A lot of us grew up not knowing we could get help,” said artist Daniel Carlson.

Nonprofit organization i understand is teaming up with Carlson to explain the meaning about the work and hand out information about their organization, which supports those who have lost a loved one to suicide or struggle with mental illness.

Actress Mariel Hemmingway is in West Michigan to host a celebration dinner for the organization.

“The more we speak about mental health, the easier it will become and the less stigma there will be,” Hemmingway said.

For decades, her family has entertained through literature, TV and film, a family legacy that has also included public battles with mental illness and suicide.

“My whole passion in life is to help people understand that there are many solutions,” said Hemingway.

Hemingway travels the world speaking about mental health and suicide prevention.

“It’s about knowing there’s an open door somewhere,” she said.

Like Carlson’s piece, the open door allows those battling mental illness to ask for help or others to offer it.

“It’s really helpful to people when you’re in the public eye when somebody goes ‘oh my god, if she has those issues, if she can tell her story, why can’t I,’” said Hemingway.

A closer look at Carlson’s piece reveals the man seems to be melting into a puddle or dissolving as he tries to escape.

And that could be considered the call to action for this piece: don’t let anyone suffer alone.

“It’s just important to know that it’s OK to own it and to know that we’re not alone,” Hemingway said.

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