Veiled Anterior, 2021
Double Minded, 2021
As an artist, I reflected on the following questions when creating Veiled Anterior and Double Minded:
How are we supposed to design materialistic spaces for an issue that is not easily accessible to our eyes or even in our conversations?
How do we move forward, learn, and evolve from the shrouded history of mental health and associated therapeutic spaces?
How do we get rid of this veil and instead focus on fostering open and constructive conversations?
Veiled Anterior was inspired by and speaks directly to the often ‘veiled’ nature of mental health in our society’s past and present. Particularly, it is a representation of how stigma continues to be an issue that casts a shadow over mental health and the act of seeking the desired supports. The blue brick background represents the historical, but now transformed, use of red brick buildings originally serving as institutionalized spaces for patients accessing the mental health facilities at the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital. However, the veil, surrounding the figure in the center, is beginning to fray around the edges as we rethink the materialistic spaces, evolving roles, and fluid ideals that contribute to mental health and therapeutic treatments today.
Double Minded was created using digitally scanned pressed flowers and leaves to form two midsagittal sections of the human brain. This digital arrangement of blue-tinged flora symbolizes the use of gardening as a form of therapeutic treatment and care previously employed at the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital. The nonsymmetric, yet cyclic, repetition of the brain sections is meant to signify the cycles of cognitive dissonance that both patients and the broader society can find themselves trapped in. Mental health treatments are ever-changing, as we discover more about the human brain, and are often delivered through multiple methods. Therefore, therapeutic spaces must be designed to allow for the adaptation of non-conventional care practices to permit a holistic approach to mental health care.
I hope that my artwork helps patients and caregivers re-evaluate how the spaces they inhabit play a role in seeking and providing compassionate care. I hope it serves as a reminder that mental health is more than just its past and that moving forward, we can unveil dynamic therapeutic designs that create space for positive outcomes to flourish through individualized treatments.
Rashmeet Kaur’s contribution to The Aesthetics of Mental Health transforms the common imagery found in scientific texts and papers. She layers brain scans and skeletal diagrams with material elements, thus applying an artistic lens over a traditionally scientific view.
In Veiled Anterior, Kaur draws attention to the changing use of the campus of the former Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital and the slow process of destigmatizing its history and the topic of mental health care, broadly speaking. While the site no longer operates as a mental health facility, its history continues to define it. There is increasing engagement with the history of the campus, its role in the history of mental health care, and the links to our contemporary mental health care system - and yet, the site (like the broader topic of mental health) continues to attract myth, misinformation, and misconceptions. Similarly, Double Minded addresses the cyclic nature of mental health care. Specifically, the blue tinged flora layered on the brain scan explores the act of gardening as a therapeutic experience - a practice which defined the experiences of many patients at the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital and is again returning to mental health care discussions today. Together, both of Kaur’s works take the tangibility and intangibility in mental health care, and incorporate additional layers of leaves and textiles over the human form to layer naturalized and human elements obscured from view.