The artist is currently based in Chicago, IL and was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland and Washington D.C. The artist’s current art practice centers around: abstracted representation, acrylic pour painting, and arts-based autoethnography. The artist is passionate about harm reduction, the destigmatization of substance use, art therapy and counseling, mental health advocacy, and social justice.

Artist Statement

Using arts-based autoethnography, rooted in self-reflexive exploration and harm reductionist ideology, the artist created a series of 26 individual canvases of acrylic pour paintings depicting the artist’s personal experience, connection, and narrative related to the project’s overarching theme of substance use stigmatization. This artistic practice is rooted in the artist’s self created art therapy and counseling directive supporting substance users and people impacted by substance users. For this directive, the artist depicts a single increment of time (a year, month, week etc.) using one single canvas, creating a unique and individualized acrylic pour painting for each of those moments – representing that distinctive experienced reality or perceived memory of that time in a new and non-literal way.

The artist created a timeline of the personal narrative of the 25 years of their life using this directive and approach, along the way encountering multiple intersections with the topics of substance use and stigma. The artist used narrative inquiry to recognize these convergent points – using writing to reflect and pull out themes. Through this creative process as a whole, the artist gained insight into how the application of art based personal narrative can aid in the overall cultivation and understanding of how substance use is shaped by political, social, cultural, and economic contexts.

25: An Abstracted Retrospection Susannah Ward, 2020