When presented with the theme “Empire State of Mind” for the AAS exhibit at FIT, the unfortunate prevalence of schizophrenia in New York was the first thing to come to mind. I came across Michelle Hammer’s work in high school, so of course, I thought immediately to reach out to her. I was not expecting a response given her large platform, but I was ecstatic when she did and we were able to meet up. Our discussion was truly interesting and she kindly gave me insight on her personal story.
Michelle Hammer and Andrea Maris
Schizophrenia is unfortunately heavily misunderstood and stigmatized. This collection is meant to signify some of the internal battles that people with schizophrenia deal with. The wavering seams represent unwanted emotions, enveloping clothing demonstrates isolation, and gathering elements signify the overbearingness of it all.
Michelle’s artwork was utilized to create a print in the collection and the common visual motifs in her art inspired many of the silhouettes. Another New York based artist with schizophrenia, Bryan Michael Greene, gave me the idea to embroider and dye fabric for other garments in the collection. Being able to not only take inspiration from these artists but to also collaborate with them has been so exciting. Schizophrenia needs to be showcased in a more positive light to encourage those struggling to seek the help they deserve. As Michelle said, “crisis in mental health is public, while wellness in mental health is private”.