The Art of Dying Slowly, With Wyatt Bronson

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“My name is Wyatt Bronson. I’m currently 31-years-old and reside in Calgary, Alberta. I grew up on Vancouver Island with ever evolving hobbies. Those hobbies currently consist of photography, visual arts and alpine climbing. My life mantra is tattooed on my arm and reads ‘Island raised, Rockies aged’.  To me this represents my foundation, built on Vancouver Island, and all the personal growth I’ve gained through my time in the Canadian Rockies.

I don’t actually know when my journey with mental health issues began, it has just been there for as long as I can remember. Pre to early teens is when depression really took over my life; this is when self harm began for me. Later, in my twenties, is when I also began to experience severe anxiety.

When I was younger I would deliberately cause myself physical pain, mostly through cutting and burning myself. Looking back I realize these were coping mechanisms; all I knew at the time was that the physical pain distracted from the overwhelming emotional pain. I was channeling the energy into a form I knew how to manage. Later in my 20’s I began to find ways to steer that energy into positive, less harmful things.

More recently I have discovered my own ability to use art as therapy.

Last summer the company I worked for went bankrupt. My stress and anxiety levels sky rocketed. Emotionally I was processing a lot and my depression came back. I started writing my emotions on my studio wall.

I was hiding out in my photography darkroom, pouring my heart out onto a piece of drywall and this broke me. I was being a poor friend, letting a lot of people down and disappearing from people’s lives for months at a time. I didn’t know how to cope at this level and decided that I should at least explain to my loved ones what I was going through.

But how?

Flat out telling people just wasn’t an option; the thought of judgement terrified me. Expressing through art seemed easier, only the people that understood what I was going through would get it. It was like a security blanket for me.

I began turning the writing on my walls into a shot list and started photographing my emotions. It was terrible.

Our social media culture has made photography fast and disposable. The photos lacked depth and dimension, and this series was far too critical for me to make that compromise.

So I pushed myself out of my comfort zone again. I decided to turn my photo ideas into sculpture ideas. The only problem was, I had never sculpted anything in my life. I dumped all my energy into learning and designing new techniques. Through that my new series was born, currently titled ‘The Art of Dying Slowly’. The first sculpture depicts my feelings of drowning.

If there is one thing I could say to anyone out there having a hard time, it would be to never make decisions in haste. The emotional pain of poor mental health can seem overwhelming, but as with physical pain, it will improve with time. Utilize healthy, productive distractions until you can gain the clarity you need to process life and all its challenges. Paint the wall, write the poem, take your camera for a walk and know that things do get better.”

Wyatt will be discussing his series this coming Saturday, June 1, in Calgary at The Awareness Project, an event supporting Project Nightlight and cohosted by NVRLND and Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids.  The Awareness Project is a one day, workshop style event where children and families can get creative, build community and talk about expression.

Wyatt will be one of five panel members who will be ready to talk all things art, expression and mental health, while the kids learn about expression through art in a hands on creative environment.

Project Nightlight is a non-profit focused on empowering children and families to openly discuss mental health. Our goal is to do better. To provide a safe space to share. To provide useful resources for people of all ages. To get past the stigma of mental illness, normalize speaking about our mental health and to help make things that are often invisible to friends and family visible through photos and stories.- Tamara Becker, Founder

For tickets for this event, click here http://projectnightlight.ca/

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You can contact Wyatt here: http://wyattbronson.com

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