My name is Mary Hawkins and I am an abstract artist in Greenville, South Carolina. I melt crayons and oil pastels to create colorful abstract representations of my life. It is through my work that I am able to live my life in screaming color. I choose to use the phrase, live in screaming color, because I have Bipolar Disorder.
On June 16, 2003 my life changed forever.
My father was in a horrible automobile accident involving a tractor trailer whose driver had fallen asleep at the wheel. The accident almost ended his life and would leave him with a Traumatic Brain Injury. This traumatic experience, in addition to having a family history of mental illness, is what many psychiatrists and psychologists have determined what triggered the onset of my Bipolar.
I want to share my story with other people in hopes of stopping stigma against mental illness. I am an intelligent, educated, kind, compassionate, loving, respectful and diplomatic human being with an ear ready to listen and a hand willing to help. Here is my story:
I struggled for a long time to find a healthy outlet that would quiet my mind of the highs and lows I felt so often due to my mental illness. I had been in and out of therapy, and was put on many types of medications. Things would be okay for awhile, but would not stay this way for long. I took myself off medications time and time again, and with each of these times breaking the hearts of the ones that loved me.
A few years ago I began my path finding that outlet in an art’s based therapy program, and I will be forever grateful for this. Finding therapy through the arts made sense to me. In college I studied many of history’s greatest artists, most of them had one thing in common and that commonality was they suffered from some kind of mental illness. History has shown us there is a clear connection between the artistic temperament and mental illness.
It was February of 2014 when I created my first melted crayon piece entitled, “Live in Screaming Color.” I found an old canvas, a zip lock bag of broken crayons and without any plan or purpose began to melt the broken crayons onto the canvas. It was in this moment that I felt an inner peace that I had never felt before. My mind was quiet and I was able to allow my hands to do the work. I felt free of everything. I saw this as my “Aha Moment,” my moment of clarity. I realized that broken crayons still color and saw this as a metaphor for my life. Having Bipolar Disorder does not make me broken, but in society’s eyes it does.
The arts have always been a large part of my life and a very special bond I share with my grandmothers. They taught me at an early age to really look for and appreciate the beauty that can be found in art, music, nature and life in general. For this reason, I find inspiration for my work through other artists, music, photography and experiences that I have with loved ones. I am also inspired by the amazing scenery that is the Upstate of South Carolina. I am heavily influenced by artists of the 60’s Pop Art Movement (I guess you could say I’ve been channeling my inner Jasper Johns), Impressionism and Street Art.
Currently my work can be viewed through the month of January at the Café @ Williams Hardware in Travelers Rest, South Carolina.