By Frances Grant, Yellow House Fellow

Art is a medium which can encourage healing and self-care. There is a therapeutic element to creating art in a time of trauma or illness. Life Under Construction exemplifies this concept as the artists featured in the exhibition, Princess Simpson Rashid and Keith Doles, describe their artwork in relation to recovering one’s physical and mental health. The daily routine of reclaiming wellness of body and mind is central to the expressive abstract art created by Rashid and Doles.

Crisp lively hues are accentuated in Rashid’s paintings and prints. Her relationship to color greatly overlaps with her experiences as a breast cancer survivor. Color is a powerful tool for Rashid and she uses it to express a narrative of uplift and suffering. She speaks of pain, loss, and exhilaration through colors such as red, black, white, and yellow. The hues chosen by Rashid support her philosophies on art which maintain that tension is a reoccurring principle in her life and creative practice.

Likewise, Doles paintings tend to embody tangible representations of inner turmoil and the desire to regain stability. After caring for his ailing mother, Doles’ health began to deteriorate and ever since he has been on a path to recovery. For Doles, his paint brushes and palette knives are like tools used by construction workers. His art is a vehicle for rebuilding his life from the ground up.

Life Under Construction serves as a testament to the complexities of recovery from deeply personal trauma and strain caused by sickness. Both Rashid and Doles weave tales in their artwork that emphasize the positive, negative, and even neutral aspects of living with illness. Moreover, their artwork highlights how art can act as an instrument to cope with extreme stressors and reflect on the nature of one’s well-being.

Life Under Construction will be on display to the public at Yellow House until February 10, 2018.

You will learn more about Frances Grant, the author of this post, in an upcoming Conversation.  Ms. Grant is the very first Yellow House Fellow! She is creative, brilliant, thoughtful, and committed to the mission of Yellow House.  In her own words, “Yellow House represents a genuine interest in exploring the relationship between social justice, communal collaboration, and artmaking.” Her studies at American University in Art History and Maryland Institute College of Art in Critical Studies are an asset to our work.  Much more soon!