At 25, Christi Furnas was diagnosed with schizophrenia. This queer-identified woman has used her disability as inspiration for making beautiful art and connecting with other mentally ill artists. Based in Minneapolis, MN, Furnas has been involved with Spectrum Artworks, an organization that serves as a community and studio space for artists with mental illness.
I emailed Christi recently to ask her about the truth behind the "madness = creativity" myth, her muse, and her views on being a mental illness/LGBTQ/feminist activist.
I can't believe it's the end of my guest blog series already. Looking at he theme of art and feminism has raised loads of questions and also given lots of answers. We've explored artists who use hair and those who've experienced domestic violence, the woman who got a vaginal Damien Hirst tattoo, and the countless murdered and attacked females in Juarez, Mexico, who have been immortalized through the exhibition 400 Women. It's powerful stuff...
My ultimate empowered female art heroine is a woman who made a career for herself long before the word "feminist" was in use. Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1652/3) is a force to be reckoned with, taught by her father Orazio and following in the footsteps of fellow Italian, Caravaggio. She stood out not only because of her incredible talent, but also the obstacles she overcame in her personal life to make a career out of painting.
"I like things that are handmade and I like to see people's hand in the world, anywhere in the world; it doesn't matter to me where it is. And in my own work, I do everything by hand. I don't project or use anything mechanical, because even though I do spend a lot of time trying to perfect my line work and my hand, my hand will always be imperfect because it's human. And I think it's the part that's off that's interesting, that even if I'm doing really big letters and I spend a lot of time going over the line and over the line and trying tomake it straight, I'll never be able to make it straight. From a distance it might look straight, but when you get close up, you can always see the line waver. And I think that's where the beauty is." ~Margaret Kilgallen, Art:21 (2005)