[possible tw: sex mention] “Art, to me, is the expression of that which cannot be verbalized. Somehow it manages to be pre-language. It is the most paradoxical human tendency. It can delve into the depths of human irrationality while also elevating the level of human rationality simultaneously. It’s the enigma the will never be solved and will always have changing answers. ”

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself. 
My name is Jake Spease, however, I generally create work under the pseudonym of JusticeArt. I am a bibliophile who loves books that have depth to them, whether they be non-fiction or fiction, and I have a deep appreciation of books that are well crafted. Almost all of my free time is spent working on a project, reading a book, or playing golf. Since I was 13, I have dealt with Major Depressive Disorder, which has led to me being suicidal on and off since, as well as issues with addiction and substance abuse, ADHD, and minor OCD. I don’t say that because those are defining characteristics for me as a person, but they are the foundation for my art. Creating art was one of the first healthy coping skills I developed and in many ways, it is my own personal therapy.

How does your mental health influence your work?
Art is an outlet through which I can let go some of the things that float through my head on a day to day basis. Outside of actually seeing a psychologist, art was the first therapy that I found for dealing with my own illness in a way that wasn’t self-destructive. Creating brings this sense of satisfaction that I am fighting back, and while I wouldn’t describe it as happiness, it does make me feel as if I’m winning some of the battles. I work from a place of surrealist automation and the Freudian concept of the unconscious & conscious thought plays a large role in my process, especially at the start. Generally, I go into a new piece with general ideas for the theme and a couple of the visuals. However, from that point on, I try to let myself work with some of the shapes and subjects already there so that the piece aesthetically has more unity. I explain all this because after a piece is done, I’ll look for what worked and didn’t work, but also if there are relationships between parts of the drawing that hint at references or topics that I didn’t initially see and think about at the time. That’s really where the most analysis occurs for me, which is different from when viewing other’s work because when it’s my own, I already know the themes and references that lead to the piece being created.I have two main sources of inspiration that play out in all of my work, those being literature and my experience dealing with mental illness. Usually, the experiences that I have had from the overarching themes that come into play throughout my work, while literature tends to spark ideas and references that lead to the details. The themes themselves tend to be what most people would consider dark, however, I view them as distortions of things that everyone deals with at some point in their life. Usually, they encompass a combination of three broad themes: violence, sexuality, and death. They sound morbid to focus on, but I think that everyone has to deal with each of those throughout the course of their life. For me, my dealing with mental illness has mutated each of those in various ways and in general provides a backdrop for the tone of the work I create. As for the details, they come from a variety of places. I have drawn from Greek mythology, modern day sensationalist crime, religion, old anatomy texts and illustrations, and a mixture of those into morbid puns. One of my recent pieces features a somewhat androgynous face with a mouth formed as if giving a blow job. However, instead of teeth or any of the other anatomical features inside a mouth, it is the two-dimensional vein and tissue structure of an erect penis. In general, the piece was about the unfortunate relationship between sex and violence, especially in the context of mental illness.

What does it feel like to create your work? 
To me, creating art is masochistic in a strange way. You spend hours upon hours trying to perfect the piece you’re creating and inevitably once you finish, having labored in such fashion, you realize that it wasn’t quite right. It doesn’t quite give a complete explanation of the idea you are trying to explore. Then you go and you create more because you are compelled to capture or explain all the things that you feel you missed in the original piece and it endlessly continues. And yet, like any practiced masochist, that is the very thing I love about it. It is the puzzle that cannot be solved and ultimately, that’s what I love about it. There will always be something I missed and therefore always something to dive into on the next piece. While there exists no real narrative within my work, it is meant to explore ideas through a sense of chaos. I personally have no belief in a god or higher power, instead, I think that because of our human disposition to seeing patterns, we have mistaken chaotic events as intentional. In other words, while some might see me and say that I was given mental illness to lead me to art, I view it as mental illness is random and doesn’t care about your skin tone, gender, wealth, etc and I learned to adapt to that through art. I think we live in a highly chaotic world which tests our beliefs and if you are looking to engage a person in a way that makes them give thought to their beliefs, it is most effectively communicated in a chaotic form. Simplified to the lowest common denominator, my artwork is meant to provide alternative perspectives on common occurrences.

What do you hope other people will take away from viewing your work?
For people who view my work, I have a number of hopes for what they will get out of it, some of which are more important and realistic than others. The most important of those hopes is that for people who are like me, who are struggling with the dark reality of mental illness, that they see this signal that they’re not alone in dealing with that reality. There is at least one other person who understands what they’re going through and how tough it can be. As I said earlier, at its most basic level, I create work because it helps me deal with mental illness and I hope that it can be helpful to others in that capacity as well. Beyond that I hope that it gets people who don’t generally live on the darker side of life, to think about those who do from a new angle. That for many of us, we’re just trying to get by and do the best that we can. It may be the case that our best isn’t the right thing, but we’re not doing the wrong thing because we’re bad people. We are just doing the best we can with the life we have. In general, I hope my work makes people think about and question the themes in my work in a new way. The are often unpleasant topics to think about but that doesn’t make them any less a part of life and quite frankly, they are going to stay unpleasant unless they get confronted and questioned.

Materials used:
Basically anything two dimensional, specifically graphite, watercolor, oil paint, etching, and screen printing. All images are from the current series I’m working on entitled Landscapes from Rose Niton Asylum

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