My art centers around mental illness and concepts of beauty. The piece, Twelve Self Portraits, came from repeating one exercise over and over for thirty minutes every day for two weeks. The exercise was touching one part of my body from the chest up repeatedly. For example, one day I rubbed my fingers along eyebrows over and over for the thirty minutes.
What these exercises symbolize are panic attacks, depression and anxiety, things I live with day to day. When I have episodes of anxiety or panic attacks I tend to rub my hands or fingers along certain parts of my face over and over again in order to calm myself. So to create this art piece I did the same act in times of lucid consciousness to invoke some of the same feelings and emotions.
Each self portrait is a one day, or one touching of one part of my face. The face with the black scribbles, for example, is the touching of my eyebrows, something I do during panic attacks. So when I performed this act for thirty minutes it conjured feelings of extreme anxiety and fear, symbolized by the scribbles. Twelve Self Portraits was an attempt to understand my own anxiety and describe it to my audience. Painting this art piece was insightful, difficult, but ultimately cathartic.
Rachel Milstein is an artist from Oregon currently studying fine arts at Oregon State University. Art has always been the center of Rachel’s life even from childhood, and she is grateful to be pursuing her passion and living it every day.