Bobby Marines wants to bring you into his headspace.
As part of a new mental health-themed summer exhibit at the Rochester Art Center, Marines explores “community trauma” and its effects on mental health.
“How do these traumatic events trickle into your life and affect it?” he asked. “The biggest thing I want to build is a bridge between people who may have gone through similar situations and ones who haven’t.”
Marines is one of four artists who’ll exhibit at RAC as part of “Making It OK: Art, Bravery and Mental Health,” an art display that accompanies the mental health museum exhibit, also housed in the art center.
Mental Health: Mind Matters, a traveling exhibit, was produced for North America by the Science Museum of Minnesota in collaboration with Heureka, The Finnish Science Centre.
The interactive museum exhibit teaches viewers about mental illness by quizzing participants on their knowledge of common disorders, offering games that will increase understanding, and focusing on experiential learning.
“It’s a very well-crafted, well-designed exhibit, and we have a great space for it - it’s going to look amazing here,” Sheila Dickinson, the artistic director for the RAC, said.
Each of the accompanying Minnesota artists’ work centers around mental illness. A graphic novel details the artist’s life with schizophrenia, a text video compares a parent with borderline personality disorder to weathering a storm at sea, and gardens in and around the RAC encourage museum-goers to meditate with native plants.
Marines’ work hones in on the intersection of mental health and the effects of violence, drug use, racial tension, and divorce.
“I’m trying to reflect back on growing up in that situation and what it does to a person’s psyche – how you reflect on the world and morality,” he said. “When you grow up in a house of divorce, does that affect how you view relationships? When you grow up in an area with violence, does that affect how you view other people?”
The big question for Marines is this: Do our environment and stresses create mental illnesses? Or do they merely exacerbate them?
Marines, who is “mostly a 2D artist,” created a series of paintings of families and friends, with the environmental factors that could affect those relationships as backdrops.
He also built a shack that represents a metaphorical one Marines shared with his father while growing up homeless, Dickinson said.
Peer through a stained-glass window into the shack and listen for portions of Marines’ “creative nonfiction” autobiography for snippets of his life – high-stress situations juxtaposed with family gatherings.
The artists’ work will all be on display on the third floor of the RAC. Mental Health: Mind Matters will be on display one floor below.