An Artist Explores His Mental Illness — With Beautiful Results

Photo: Courtesy Of John William Keedy.
Last week, we posted a story on schizophrenia, which aimed to provide an idea of what it's like to live with the condition. The reader response was overwhelmingly positive. Although, some of you (correctly) pointed out that it's impossible to truly understand exactly what a chronic mental health problem feels like — unless you've gone through it yourself.
With that in mind, an ongoing project by photographer John William Keedy illuminates another of the many, many facets of mental illness. Years after being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, Keedy has created a series of photographs, entitled It's Hardly Noticeable, that explores his condition from a deeply personal perspective.
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"The series did not start with a therapeutic purpose, but in creating the images I've found a means to indulge my own anxieties in a more controlled way than I had before," says Keedy. "The images in which the character — played by me — is shown allow me the opportunity to explore to what degree these are images of a character, and to what degree these are images of myself and my own anxieties."
While the images aren't self-portraits per se, each one depicts an aspect of Keedy's personal journey dealing with anxiety. "Though the actions in the photographs are often exaggerated, changed, or pushed to an extreme...each image comes directly from a personal experience of mine, or of someone describing [his or her] experiences with mental illness. I do a great deal of research to ensure that the work, though it is fabricated and constructed, [is] truthful at its core."
Click through to see selections from the series — and be sure to follow Keedy on Instagram at @JohnWKeedy.
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Photo: Courtesy Of John William Keedy.
It’s Hardly Noticeable XXXII, 2013. Archival pigment print, 40 x 27 inches.
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Photo: Courtesy Of John William Keedy.
It’s Hardly Noticeable XI, 2012. Archival pigment print, 40 x 27 inches.
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Photo: Courtesy Of John William Keedy.
It’s Hardly Noticeable XVI, 2012. Archival pigment print, 27 x 40 inches.
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Photo: Courtesy Of John William Keedy.
It’s Hardly Noticeable II, 2012. Archival pigment print, 27 x 40 inches.
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Photo: Courtesy Of John William Keedy.
It’s Hardly Noticeable XXXVI, 2013. Archival pigment print, 40 x 27 inches.
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Photo: Courtesy Of John William Keedy.
It’s Hardly Noticeable IX, 2012. Archival pigment print, 27 x 40 inches.
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Photo: Courtesy Of John William Keedy.
It’s Hardly Noticeable VIII, 2012. Archival pigment print, 40 x 27 inches.
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Photo: Courtesy Of John William Keedy.
It’s Hardly Noticeable III, 2012. Archival pigment print, 40 x 27 inches.
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Photo: Courtesy Of John William Keedy.
It’s Hardly Noticeable XX, 2012. Archival pigment print, 40 x 27 inches.
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Photo: Courtesy Of John William Keedy.
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Photo: Courtesy Of John William Keedy.
It’s Hardly Noticeable XXXIV, 2013. Archival pigment print, 40 x 27 inches.
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Photo: Courtesy Of John William Keedy.
It’s Hardly Noticeable XXXIII, 2013. Archival pigment print, 40 x 27 inches.
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Photo: Courtesy Of John William Keedy.
It’s Hardly Noticeable XXXV, 2013. Archival pigment print, 40 x 27 inches.
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Photo: Courtesy Of John William Keedy.
It’s Hardly Noticeable XXXI, 2013. Archival pigment print, 40 x 27 inches.
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Photo: Courtesy Of John William Keedy.
It’s Hardly Noticeable XII, 2012. Archival pigment print, 40 inches x 27 inches.
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