"I, honestly, was letting my inner child come out to play with this piece. I just wanted to have fun and let it be lighthearted and enjoy doing what I do."
- Sydnee Yates
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“Where do you see your reflection? What if the mirror is cracked or your perception is altered? Painting has allowed me to take the broken pieces and rearrange them into something I can actually find my own reflection in. I can see me, the real me, in my paintings.”
Sydnee Yates, an artist with a Literary degree from college woke up one day, looked in the mirror, and saw fragments of her identity shattered around her, causing her to pursue treatment for mental health. Her journey navigating her diagnoses of Bipolar disorder, PTSD, and an eating disorder have been the largest influence for her art. While in treatment, Sydnee picked up painting after many years of suffering from an artistic block. Painting, she says, “gifts me the space to move trauma through my body onto the canvas; it’s the physical place where I can safely process whatever it is I’m working through.”
She further explains “Some artwork is created from bringing the outside inward, but I knew I had to create work from bringing the inside out.” She started collaging with sentimental items - things like: birthday cards, photos, old journal entries, or movie stubs and by doing this, art making became a way for her to hold space for the emotional weight these objects held (which, often, took up too much of her mental thoughts.) By translating these emotions from objects of memory into tools of creation, she generated an “energetic dynamism that using store bought materials wouldn’t have allowed.” Using emotional memorabilia on the canvas allows her to find a resting place for, even if just for the moment, the emotions tied to these objects as they become artifacts. This has brought her to the point where, after paint has been spilled and brushes are cleaned, she has become capable of taking her artwork outside to sit in stillness, as she watches it glisten in the sun. She has become capable of finding moments of peace.
For much of her life, Sydnee felt like a burden. Each day she works on how to find her own voice often, ending up, with a brush in her hand. Someone told her once, “If you’re not creating, you’re destroying.” This is a concept she has internalized and lives by. If she doesn’t have a tangible representation of her emotions or “something to show for all she’s been through,” she feels things tend to go downhill and, so, the thought pattern of creating instead of destroying pushes her to continue creating.
“I process. Then, I paint over and reconstruct. And I learn to let go.”
Painting has given Sydnee a reason to get up in the morning. She has created a different type of looking glass to fall into, one where she can access her truest self and construct what that looks like in form and color. She calls her work “organized chaos,” as it aims to create a balance between masculine vs. feminine properties, playful vs. heavy energies, and broken vs. connected lines.”
“There is a sense of belonging in the colloquial layers on the canvas. Everyone falls apart at some point. It’s my own personal opinion that if you’re going to fall apart, then go ahead. Come beautifully undone, plant the seed, take fractures and, then, turn them into something, well...pretty.”
ArtLifting champions artists impacted by homelessness or disabilities through the celebration and sale of their artwork. Learn more here.