The Thin Line Exhibition

Friday, Nov 19, 2021 – Thursday, Dec 30, 2021

12:00am – 12:00am


It was first noted by Aristotle in his infamous quote, There is no great genius without a mixture of madness. In 1959, Oscar Levant, American pianist, composer, author, comedian, and actor stated, “There is a thin line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.”

The Art Center Highland Park is addressing the link between ‘madness’ and ‘genius’ in the context of art. From Van Gogh, to Viginia Woolf, and in recent years Kusama and Robin Williams, the line between what we call lucidity and insanity is so often visible, but yet, it can be both celebrated and feared.

Art enables all of us to communicate on a deeper level. Images represent the emotions that are often unspeakable or unknowable. Artists who struggle with mental illness have the unique ability to use creativity as an outlet and integrate their ‘described racing thoughts’ into a visual language. The result is work that is both unique to the individual and expansive into a symbolic universal truth. The work can tether us to reality and it can take us on a journey that travels beyond time and space. More importantly, artists with mental illness can find that the creative process is healing, enabling them to reclaim rather than recoil.

TAC is searching for artists whose work explores their relationship to mental illness, and whose work represents the struggle between strength and surrender, in order to illustrate the moment when darkness turns to light.

Kelly Mathews, a Chicago artist has been awarded an Individual Artists Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, as well as a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, a state agency through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, for her project; Being Bipolar in a Polarized World.” 

Kelly states, “Mental Illness can be tragic and heartbreaking. It can also be beautiful. Consider Van Gogh. When he looked at the night sky, he saw “The Starry Night”. If he had not existed and painted, we could never share his vision. This exhibit is to celebrate those of us who see things a little different and offer you a peek into our world.”

TAC is proud to be the first to exhibit this profound work that helps all of see into the world of artist expression, breaking stigmas, and celebrating difference.

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The Art Center Highland Park
1957 Sheridan Road
Highland Park, Illinois, 60035

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