by Andrea Bollen / Andream

← Back to Showcase bachelor of design, photography major

Graduation year: 2024

An ongoing project of an accumulation of studio portraits. A connection between the photographer with anxiety and depression, and sitters who responded to a Craigslist post requesting volunteers identifying with mental health issues interested in the project. The space of encounter is a stripped-down studio with a spotlight and a stool in a dark environment. The resulting portraits are a dialogue between the artist and the sitter. The viewer is an outsider witnessing a select and tight gaze of the subject.

Mental state of mind is explored in portraiture while obscuring parts of the body, front and back. The artist includes herself within the project, desiring to re-situate the aura within the self-portrait.

The flatness of the panels and the use of theatre-like chiaroscuro indicate the missing information, unable to be portrayed in a single portrait sitting. Sharp shadows and chromatic blacks challenge portrait photography aesthetics. The work is an embodied response to the documentary style in photo history of people with mental health issues.

An audio piece accompanies the panels. The audio is the sitter’s responses to an online survey created by the artist, for the sitter to be able to speak about mental health, their experiences, and the studio portraits. The audio is read as anonymous, with Tyler Roth, voice actor, reading the responses.

The viewer is asked to question what assumptions are made based on appearance and their knowledge of mental health issues, what it means ‘to see,’ ‘to witness,’ and ‘to be seen,’ and to consider what is exposed when using photography to discuss mental health.

Andream Headspace poster

About the Artist

In 2019, after working in health care as an occupational therapist (OT) for over a decade, Andream began a journey of slowing down and began a therapeutic process of creating art for herself. A friend’s accidental misspelling of her name initiated her artist identity: Andream, to distinguish herself from her professional signature: Andrea Bollen.

Andream will be graduating from ECU with a BFA, photography major, in May 2024. She plans to pursue art and photography as a therapeutic practice for others, creating arts-based rehab programs. For now, she continues her personal journey in art school – looking inwards, expressing feelings through photography and mixed media, investigating relationships, community, environmental and social issues. Find more art and writing at www.andream.art.

Andream is a 3rd generation European settler who lives on the stolen lands of the Lək̓ʷəŋən/Songhees peoples.

Emily Carr Students are eligible to submit their work for consideration in the Showcase.

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