New Exhibit Celebrates Chicago Artist Who Finds Healing Through Expression | Black Voices | Chicago News

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An Englewood native shows the impact art therapy can have on mental health in a new exhibit called ‘Therapeutic Reasoning’.

Art correspondent Angel Idowu takes us to A Very Serious Gallery in River West for a preview.

The phrase “a lot can change in a year” could very well be used to describe artist David Ellis and the role the phrase has played in his life.

“I had really aggressive suicidal thoughts and one of the first things on the safe list was to paint when I felt aggressive thoughts,” Ellis said. “So that’s what I started doing… I went back to what made me happy when I was a kid, which was drawing.”

When it was time to pay the rent, Ellis, who also goes by the name EWRKS, decided to sell his paintings on his lawn. The success is such that the self-taught artist decided to do it every month.

“I had my first two sales, and as soon as people stop and buy art, and other people see people buying art, it catches the eyes of more people in the direction,” Ellis said.

Whether it’s for himself or for commissions, Ellis says he needs to paint every day.

“People kind of ignore the need for art and the place it has in society that gives meaning to everything…art is needed,” Ellis said.

He shows this need for self-expression in a new exhibition at A Very Serious Gallery, 673 N. Milwaukee Ave., where he documents societal moments in time with acrylic on canvas. Each piece took no more than a day.

“So I’m going to take screenshots of celebrity moments in pop culture moments and things that make sense to me… Nothing is super intentional in terms of genre, what I create has always been for therapeutic reasons, like I created to feel good, to feel normal too, to balance myself to center myself, it was never about other people,” he explained.

While art and self-expression have helped Ellis improve his mental state, it’s a practice he says he will always need to work on.

“I think it’s important to know that it’s not the ultimate solution. It’s not that thing that’s going to make you want to help out the rest of your life,” he said. “That’s the thing you always know, you can come back to center yourself.”

The characters Ellis has created live in what he calls “The Day Room”, and hopes his art will dismantle racism, homophobia, and elitism, among other things.

“It speaks a lot to my [fluid] sexuality… I wanted to create this flow of mutual understanding through creative means. I think artists have always been very cross-generational, so I can engage with people my age, older black people, you don’t like the image of a penis talking about that,” he said. declared. “So it’s a talking point and it creates a bigger space for healing and understanding.”

Although the artwork is created for his personal healing, he hopes it will inspire black and brown children, in particular.

“Investment has to start at some point. There’s no way not to spend money and not spend time and not practice,” Ellis said. “Take agency and creative agency over what you love to do, and don’t let anyone else drive your life decisions.”

“Therapeutic Works” at A Very Serious Gallery runs until October 23.


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