Edward Honaker’s series of dreamlike images expose his personal struggle with depression and allow viewers to further understand the sensitive topic that is mental illness. Diagnosed at 19, the young artist chose to explore the potential of communicating his emotions through a collection of self-portraits. The photographs incite a visceral reaction, unsettling in their stark, black and white compositions.
Depression is an isolating illness, lonely and confusing. “Your mind is who you are, and when it doesn’t work properly, it’s scary,” Honaker explains in an interview with Huffington Post. Many of his images have obscured faces, communicating disconnect from self and the surrounding world. This loss of self can be debilitating, but there is comfort in knowing that others around you may understand, or feel the same.
Good art has the ability to evoke powerful emotions and connect us with one another. Honaker’s photographs successfully communicate the dulling and distorting effects of depression and facilitate further understanding of the illness. Empathy needs to grow around the topic of mental illnesses, in order to induce further destigmatization. Although these prints may be uncomfortable, they are a valuable tool in communicating the universal and intrinsic desire to be understood.