Table for Three, and No, she's Not a Third Wheel, 2021
Introducing Serina Maria, Finland Collagist
/DRI:M/SPACE is pleased to spotlight Serina Maria. Serina was awarded a Spotlight feature for the International Women's Day open call "Don't Run from the Fire" for her collage "We Break to Grow".
Serina writes, "A woman is walking on the path of her life, filled with unavoidable sharp-edged fragments that cut you deeply. Those fragments represent the pressures and demands of society on how a woman should look and behave. We are told from a very young age how we should act, and the media affects us daily, especially about our body image, our appearance, changing these demands constantly. This collage is very personal, so I see myself walking on that path, from a kid to a teenager and finally to the woman I've become. I've had my battles and I lost one, I suffer from anorexia, but I've stayed true to myself. I've always been told that I'm different then others, and I've always wore what I want; even though those things cost me, and I got bullied during my whole school time. But I'm proud of that little kid, who stayed strong despite how tricky and painful the road was for her, so I was able to become the woman who I am now and wanted to be, not what society expected from me. I recently heard a reminder to be grateful for that kid. A person who went to the same school with me told my aunt, 'I thought it was wonderful how she was always able to be herself and original, regardless what everyone else was saying' and that sentence I will cherish in the future. I only see possibilities to grow and discover more of myself, regardless of the new fragments that will be thrown in my way."
Click to Expand
Top Panel - The Price of Being Famous / Don't Scream / Let the Light In
Bottom Panel - Dissociation / Shield Yourself / Traumas Inside Me
From the Collagist: I'm an expert by experience through art, in the field of mental health and addiction, so I identify myself more as a mental health artist. I use analogue collage as art therapy for myself, but also as a tool to express my thoughts and feelings more intensively through them for other people—I believe in the power of visualising. I use my collages combined with my texts not only to help people with similar issues I'm going through, but also to educate people who don't have them; so that they could have a better understanding what it is truly like to be mentally ill. With my art I am reducing the stigma around mental health issues, building a bridge of understanding between people. I'm somewhat brutally honest about them, I don't like to sugar-coat anything, I want to tell the reality, to break taboos. I suffered many years in silence carrying the stigma and shame on my shoulders. It made my condition a lot worse and prevented me from getting proper help. I decided not to be silenced anymore, and to not be ashamed to talk about my issues. It doesn't make me any less of a worthy person, or at least it shouldn't; and for that kind of a better world I am fighting and creating my art for.
Click to Expand
Serina's Process Pic, Headshot, & Workspace
Serina's work touched me deeply. Her collages on Instagram are paired with confessional entries about her experience dealing with mental health issues. She writes openly—she is raw, honest, and vulnerable.
For her collage "Depression" Serina writes, "I've been feeling like there is nothing for me to enjoy anymore, every day is just a repeat of yesterday. Even in my dreams I'm not feeling alive anymore, just sleep paralysis after another. Yesterday I had my psychophysical physiotherapy, and I requested a guided imaginary meditation to ease my withdrawal symptoms. It was so relaxing, at some point I was a deer running in the desert and I could feel it's energy flowing through my body. At the end of the exercise I was floating in my own cloud; first it was pink giving me energy, then it turned to red giving me love and then green giving me strength. Finally it was like a rainbow hugging me and filling me with good and positive energy. I remembered that I have people who love me, and who I love back, that I'm not alone 💕 But then I woke up today, without a hint of that hope left, just a zombie with withdrawal symptoms, only able to vomit and cry. I've been doing this collage, it's not how I wanted it to be but at least it is something. I started to make a challenge collage to get started, gardens within. In this collage there is a beautiful garden inside me and around, but I'm just unable to see it, I don't have the strength to find it, and even though I would find it, everything is just black and white for me, no colours. I honestly don't know at this point how many days I'm able to carry this broken body alone, and when it is time to "give up" and go to the hospital and let them ease my pain. I hope this will be the last time in my life I need to suffer through this, I wouldn't wish this on anyone."
Click to Expand
Top Panel - Daydreamer Painting Winter / Void
Bottom Panel - I Too, Shall Leave This World / And Then the Clouds Started to Cry
I can relate to Serina's need to be transparent about her struggles. I also experience anxiety and panic attacks from time to time. Sharing alleviates the fear. And, creating art can help you experience emotional release. When collage is used as art therapy it can offer insight into the thoughts and feelings that are burdening you.
"Void" (shown above) features a naked woman sitting with her arms crossed protectively in an open, snowy field with a flock of soaring birds. A hawk appears to be circling her, the image is menacing. Will the bird of prey strike? Is the figure being hunted?
On her blog Serina writes, "I started making this collage after a call with my psychiatrist, to pour my emotions into my art. I moved her back and forth in different landscapes, spaces—I tried everything. But she always ended up back there, in the middle of nothingness. Trying to ignore the hawk flying around her, cos it isn't real anymore. From being a friend, an ally, an enemy, it has turned into just a word that has no meaning anymore. Still after days, I can't move her anywhere else, it's a collage that is too simple for me. But I'm not able to add anything more—there simply isn't more. I didn't glue her there permanently, cos I know this feeling will fade away eventually and turn into something else."
The hawk in her collage represents Serina's misdiagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. She is currently on a new path of recovery. You got this, Serina!
Click to Expand
Resurrecting myself / textmewhenyougethome / Evening Stroll
Serina's collages have been featured on @aburdist_collageclub, @thecollagetemple, @the collagearte, and @februallage. I'm sure we will be seeing more of her art pop up on Instagram as she continues to create personal, meaningful work. Be sure to check out Serina's links to learn more about her. She is a brave soul using collage as therapy to heal and is working to destigmatize mental health issues through her own life experiences.
I Hear Dark Voices, 2020
Q&A with the Artist:
/DRI:M/ARTZ: What influenced your journey as an artist? Were you always a creative person? When did you first start making collages?
Serina Maria: My first hobby was visual arts club for kids. In school I took every extra curriculum that was possible in visual arts and crafts. Alongside with painting and crafts, I would get old clothes and fabrics from the recycling center and turn them into new clothes to fit me. Our family didn't have much money so I was creative in that way, and I've always felt a strong need to express my personality through my appearance. It got me bullied, but I wanted to look like myself. Later in my life I studied clothing and furniture restoration. So the answer is yes, I've always felt the need to create things with my hands. And when it comes to collaging, it's kind of a beautiful story, I think. When I was 3-5 years old, my artistic aunt was babysitting me when my parents were working. We would always do my art diary. I cut shapes and pictures then glued them, and finished them with drawings. So that was the beginning of my journey as an artist, but it was forgotten when I went to arts club and started to draw and paint. My dad was artistic, and my support, and when he died 10 years ago, I just couldn't pick up my pens and brushes anymore—it was too painful. It was heartbreaking to not be able to express myself in ten years, but finally last autumn, the circle was closed. It just hit me one night, I started to make a collage and I was instantly hypnotised and intrigued by it. I forgot time and space around me, and I just poured my emotions into collages. They freed me from my critical self-talk and my emotional block towards arts. So here I am, doing collages again after 25 years, like it was meant to be. In this way I'm honoring my dad's memory. He is my inspiration.
DA: I love your collage "I Hear Dark Voices". It is really powerful. In the post you talk about mental illness, what the collage represents, and your new blogging venture about your mental health recovery. What prompted you to take your struggle to social media?
SM: Last autumn I graduated as an expert by experience, and that job revolves around breaking the stigma in mental health issues. I had this burning desire to do something more about it for a long time, and I was tired of hiding things from people. I decided to rip the bandage off for good and share my life to the whole world. I haven't regretted that decision, I honestly think it's the best thing I've ever done.
DA: What can your fans look forward to this year and beyond?
SM: I will continue pouring my emotions into collages and raise awareness of mental health issues, but I also want to evolve as an artist. I'm currently doing a mixed media series of a woman's body, exploring it as how it feels to be objectified. I'm also studying Kalevala, the Finnish national epic of oral folklore and mythology, telling a story about the Creation of the Earth. I'm planning to do a series of that as well in the future, so there's definitely something different on the way.
Check out Serina's tune recommendation "Depth of My Soul" by Thievery corporation ft. Shana Halligan. Enjoy!
Instagram | @serinamaria
Blog | Serina Maria