Misa Ritter

Artist Statement

My work examines my experiences with mental illness. At age 11, I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.  With medication, counseling and support from my family, I am able to successfully manage my life. My works aim to destigmatize mental illness, especially for teenagers. My garments illustrate how mental illness is part of my daily life and how it is my normal.  I prefer to use fashion as a medium because I love that we can take something that usually feels utilitarian and tell a story with it instead. Like clothing, mental illness is attached to you. After being hospitalized, I felt overwhelmed and buried by paperwork.  Using folding and manipulation, I created the paper headdress, Paperweight. Although appearing light, when worn, you feel the weight and pressure piling up.

Recently I began incorporating video into my artwork. This forces the viewer to confront the subject matter directly. I hope to continue exploring this approach.  In my piece, Hello My Name Is, I talk about my frustration with an educational institution that labeled me as a dangerous. On these stickers, I wrote labels and titles that I have personally been called. I want the viewer to feel the effects of being continually labeled. I hope my viewers feel inspired to start a conversation. I know that I will always struggle with my mental illness, but I also know there is great value in talking about those struggles. What started as an examination of my own healing process has now become a symbol of my strength and resilience.