Alum Corinne Lightweaver has released her latest book The Psyche’s Gifts: Art, Art Making, and the Journey from Mental Illness to Mental Wellness. In it, she documents her personal experience of living with mental illness using the medium of paper collage. Having lived with depression and obsessive compulsive disorder for more than a quarter-century, she has learned coping mechanisms—including art—that keep mental illness at bay for most of the time.
“Mental wellness is not a destination but rather a strong yet fragile state of being,” said Lightweaver. “I hope my work illustrates the experience of others with mental illness so that they don’t feel so alone. I hope I can also bring my particular experience to the conversation of understanding and destigmatizing mental illness.”
Lightweaver, a 2015 graduate of Antioch University Los Angeles’ MA in Nonprofit Management program, is an artist and writer. Her artistic journey began in painting, with wildlife as her favorite subject, and included forays into other media, such as ceramics. A diagnosis of breast cancer led her to discover collage and assemblage, an apt metaphor for piecing her life and body together again, leading to the body of work published in her first book, In the Breast of Health: Healing from Cancer through Art.
Through her artwork, Lightweaver hopes to spark personal and public conversations about mental illness, reduce stigma, and encourage those who suffer to find treatment. The internal experience of mental illness is difficult to describe, but the collage-making process gives Lightweaver uncommon access to her unconscious, allowing her to reveal her journey and shed light on the experience. The 38 color illustrations in this book explore and depict one person’s experience, but the themes are deeply universal, even to those without mental illness.