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This photo-essay will explore and document how art is used therapeutically for the mentally ill at the Creedmore Psychiatric Unit.

Overview

The Creedmore Pschiatric Unit's Living Museum provides an alternative venue for psychiatric patients who cannot lead a normal life but yearn to recover their humanity as they receive treatment for their mental illnesses while simultaneously explore their creative interests.  Many artists I spoke with there remark about their terrible memories at normal psychiatric hospitals with little light, harmful medical treatments, and outright physical and psychological abuses that exacerbated their illnesses.  However, in the Living Museum they have begun to enjoy their lives as they talk to other artists in the community, construct sculptures, paint on canvas, serve themselves some coffee, and in the evening, some even go home to their respective apartments to rest in preparation for the next day’s adventure.  The success of this project serves as a stark rebuttal to the pessimistic, traditional medical community that had predicted its failure. 

Nevertheless, many of these artists, cannot live outside the boundaries of the Living Museum.  It is too daunting of a task, and there is a palpable sense that many of them are mere steps from falling into the spiral of instability.  However, if we redefine therapy as something that allows patient to lead a pleasant life instead of making them functional again, then the Living Museum and its founders may claim a partial victory as evidenced by the enthusiastic faces that walk the halls of the Living Museum.  Many of the patients –now artists– have re-identified themselves beyond their psychiatric illness, in a way that allows them to see the world using the prism of an artist’s freedom as they grasp a happiness they would never have reached otherwise.  In a way, the Living Museum allows them to be reborn as a beautiful art project themselves.  Hence, my goal will be to capture in a photo-essay the metamorphosis as patients transition to artists inching towards the freedom the outside world only wishes they had.

Previous work

I have published a photo-essay before when I was in Cuba last summer.  It was published in the Latin American New Dispatch and here is the link to the work:

Cuba: Waiting For The Revolution

I have also copied some of the images with captions here so that you can see the quality of my work.  Hope you enjoy them!

" Photographer Daniel Lascano captured the following images in Cuba from July 7-28, 2011 as he traveled from Havana to Baracoa. Lascano writes, “Cuba for me– and many Latin Americans– is a pilgrimage of sorts because at one point it represented our most hopeful desires for our burgeoning American republics; sadly, we realized that it came at the cost of autonomy and personal development. Hence, I wanted to demystify Cuba and personally deconstruct what the revolution meant in the Cuban psyche.” - April 19, 2012 "

Carnival commences with a small fireworks display that attracts the awe of a handful of onlookers
Carnival commences with a small fireworks display that attracts the awe of a handful of onlookers
Two men walking on the desolate Carretera Central near the Interprovincial bus stop in Santa Clara, a city that perspires images of Ernesto “el Che” Guevara everywhere one goes.
Two men walking on the desolate Carretera Central near the Interprovincial bus stop in Santa Clara, a city that perspires images of Ernesto “el Che” Guevara everywhere one goes.
Bahía de Miel near the southern end of the Malecón in Baracoa. A dog snoops around the debris engulfing parts of the Ciudad Primera, the first Spanish settlement established in Cuba nearly 500 years ago.
Bahía de Miel near the southern end of the Malecón in Baracoa. A dog snoops around the debris engulfing parts of the Ciudad Primera, the first Spanish settlement established in Cuba nearly 500 years ago.
A group of men playing a lively game of dominoes in the Parque Serrano in Santiago de Cuba.
A group of men playing a lively game of dominoes in the Parque Serrano in Santiago de Cuba.
Adjacent to the glass-encased “Granma” and in front of SA-2 Guideline surface-to-air missile, we find the Eternal Flame dedicated to the heroes of the Cuban revolution in Havana.
Adjacent to the glass-encased “Granma” and in front of SA-2 Guideline surface-to-air missile, we find the Eternal Flame dedicated to the heroes of the Cuban revolution in Havana.
The beatific sunset contrasts with the wanly expression of the men standing on the ledge awaiting that slight tug from their improvised fishing poles.
The beatific sunset contrasts with the wanly expression of the men standing on the ledge awaiting that slight tug from their improvised fishing poles.
Signatures of tourists overlay the walls of the popular restaurant Bodeguita del Medio while the rhythms of Cuban legends such as Compay Segundo or Faustino Oramas accentuates the feeling of going back to a foregone time.
Signatures of tourists overlay the walls of the popular restaurant Bodeguita del Medio while the rhythms of Cuban legends such as Compay Segundo or Faustino Oramas accentuates the feeling of going back to a foregone time.
A woman has donned her best costume and smile for Carnival, also known as Mamarrachos, which overwhelms Santiago de Cuba towards the end of July to celebrate life, Afro-Cuban culture, and Fidel Castro’s 26th of July Movement.
A woman has donned her best costume and smile for Carnival, also known as Mamarrachos, which overwhelms Santiago de Cuba towards the end of July to celebrate life, Afro-Cuban culture, and Fidel Castro’s 26th of July Movement.
The bust of Julio Antonio Mella— one of the founding members of the first Marxist-Leninist political party in Cuba—graces the center of the first shopping mall in Cuba, Manzana de Gómez.
The bust of Julio Antonio Mella— one of the founding members of the first Marxist-Leninist political party in Cuba—graces the center of the first shopping mall in Cuba, Manzana de Gómez.
Carnival revelers carry signs asking people to dream and hope.
Carnival revelers carry signs asking people to dream and hope.
Carnival commences with a small fireworks display that attracts the awe of a handful of onlookers
Carnival commences with a small fireworks display that attracts the awe of a handful of onlookers
The Cuartel Moncada is where the revolution began as Fidel Castro and company launched their first failed attempt to overthrow Batista on July 26th 1953.
The Cuartel Moncada is where the revolution began as Fidel Castro and company launched their first failed attempt to overthrow Batista on July 26th 1953.

http://dannylascano.wordpress.com/

Why I want to do this

This will be my first opportunity to make a photo-essay in the context of medicine.  I believe documenting patients as they face their illnesses is important for my training as a physician while simultaneously helping a patient document their struggle.  In addition, I think that in medicine, alternative venues for treatment are never really pursued as we all seek that magic pill that can cure someone.  My project will show that people can lead happy lives and cope with their illness if we allow them to use art to express their emotions and pain, facilitating a catharsis of sorts.

Another reason is that I believe that this type of project gives the humanities and arts some relevance in medicine and treating the ill.  Nowadays, we ask the humanities and the arts practicality--that is some way for it to apply itself for practical benefits.  I am not a fan of this idea just because the humanities and the arts offer so much in value that cannot be measured such as self-reflection, innovative thought, empathy, etcétera.  However, these are not tangible values, but something like the Living Museum's project is both tangible and practical.  Hence, I believe it is important to document this novel application of art as therapy for the mentally ill as evidence against the arguments from the naysayers that state that the humanities and arts are just a bourgeois construction with no practical benefits.  I hope to prove them wrong.

Reasons I need funding

The reason I need the money is for housing in New York for the duration of the project which will roughly be about 6-8 weeks,  public transportation and other logistical costs.  I also need to purchase materials to try to print some of the photos and/or pay someone to make the large prints required for the exhibition.  I hope to set up everything for September and everyone is invited!  Your support is crucial for this project so please help me out by pledging whatever you can!  Once again thanks for your support!

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    A very sincere thanks and my utmost appreciation. Your contribution will help me try to convey via the photoessay the possibility of alternate therapies for the mentally ill.

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    Very, very thankful about your contribution and I can send you an email of some of the photos.

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    1 backer

    My sincere gratitude, and I will send you a 4x6 print of your favorite photo from the photo-essay. Please add $6.00 for international shipping.

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    Thanks a bunch!!!!!!!!!!! For your immense generosity I will reciprocate with three 4x6 photos from the photo-essay ( or from the photo-essay about Cuba). Please add $10 for international shipping.

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    All the above, my unrelenting waves of gratitude, and I will send you a 8x10 print of your favorite photo from the photo-essay (or from the photo-essay about Cuba). Please add $8.00 for international shipping.

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    All of the above, my sincere gratitude, my utmost thanks, and the whole nine yards...really, really thankful. I will also send you an 11 X 14 print of your favorite photo from the photo-essay (or from the photo-essay about Cuba), and you can ask me a question about the series via email. Please add $20.00 for international shipping.

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    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    All of the above, a video recorded thank you (yes really), and I will also send you an 16 X 20 print of your favorite photo from the photo-essay. Please add $30.00 for international shipping.

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    You are the man/woman! In all honesty, I am beyond grateful and I will give you shout outs in facebook/twitter/etc; I will also give you personal updates about the project and a behind the scenes look at the creative process. Finally, I will send you six 11x14 prints of your favorite photos from the photo-essay (or from the photo-essay about Cuba), and we can meet in person to talk about the project if you are interested.

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Funding period

- (30 days)