Department of Fine and Performing Arts

Shellie Cruz


Thesis Statement

My current project “Sanity” is a multi-media installation with a focus on printmaking. I have also included a watercolor, ceramic, and sculptural piece. What does it mean to stay sane during a global pandemic? How do we cope? Do you rise? Fall? Do you have unhealthy coping mechanisms?

Sanity is meant to take one on a voyage through my own process of staying sane while also struggling with depression and PTSD. There are 33 pieces that will; take the viewer on a journey of fearless exploration into the mind of an artist who suffers from what can sometimes be debilitating depression and PTSD.

The highs and lows of the inner world are expressed in contrasting elements. Divided between the “good” and “bad” days. This takes one referentially “from the rainbows and sunshine to the rabbit hole and darkness that all exist within”. Each piece tells a story but together they cohesively act.

Depression and PTSD are common and debilitating illnesses. They are treatable, but many persons with depression and PTSD do not receive even minimally adequate treatment. By tackling such a taboo topic as mental health it is my hope that I can help others come out of the shadows and shame of having depression and into the light. Let us talk, because together we can help each other stay sane.

The process of printmaking is a metaphor for life. I love how tedious it can be. When you carve for hours on end your fingers hurt, they callous, you inevitably get cut. You sometimes slip up and carve an area you did not mean to. In the end when you map it out, carve the right valleys and turns you can end up with something beautiful. There is peace there. I call it Sanity.

  • My work over the last 10 years has mainly focused on aspects of healing, growth, spirituality, cycles, and most currently mental health. These concepts reveal themselves in varied artistic forms and showcase my innermost world and how I relate them conceptually through my art. In the current climate of a global pandemic, I feel that by representing my own struggles with depression and PTSD through art I can help people who may also be struggling with their mental health to feel less alone.

    Art can cross cultural boundaries. Art can heal and be a unifying force from suffering into a sense of peace. I want to create a dialogue around topics that many keep hush hush because of shame and taboo. My art ranges from the serene to the deranged. Expressing the push pull of the thought processes that one goes through within the scope of depression and PTSD. When battling with internal forces that often conflict, the subconscious and conscious parts of the brain sometimes fail to connect reason and reality.

    The work is a representation of many moods. My work is meant to be seen and analyzed. Symbolism is abundant in the pieces, and within each piece a story can be found. I explore life and death, blissfulness, and desperation. The scenes I have created may pull at some heart string. My work is not meant to provoke or trigger people, but some pieces may be unsettling. Our world is not so different from the worlds I create within my pieces. Disillusionment abounds and most people have felt complete joy or despair at one time or another.

    I cannot imagine a world without art! When I was a little girl I remember seeing Bob Ross on the television painting “happy little trees” and being totally enthralled with his process. Watching the painting appear before my eyes as his gentle instructions carried me along. Art has always been an escape, a savior, a trusted friend. I create art for the release it gives me. I create because my inner child cries out for attention on a regular basis. I create art because it helps me heal.Within each piece a seed is planted. As I work through them that is where the growth happens.

    If you are suffering or know someone else who is please see my help and resources page for guidance.