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UAH BFA Photography major Aubrie Pope exhibits her images of her struggles with depression. Her show, entitled Introspection, describes the process of how she deals with a sometimes debilitating “darkness”. Aubrie’s courageous work brings us closer to what some of us have recently witnessed through the pandemic. From large-scale digital prints to small Polaroids, she describes her personal process in three categories- Anguish, Distortion and Sanctuary. Aubrie finds her resolve in “The way to escape the darkness is to find your center, your comfort.”

Full Artist Statement by Aubrie:

I have struggled with depression for most of my life. It’s something that I haven’t always been aware of, but I have always felt the effects. Recently I have found myself struggling more than I ever have before. I feel like my days run together, I can’t find the motivation to do anything, and I feel numb to everyone around me. I’ve found myself at rock bottom before I could even recognize what was happening.

Sometimes I struggle with finding the right words to communicate what is happening inside my head, but I realize that it is easier for me to share through my art. I found inspiration for this collection from the photographer Nan Goldin. Her work is used as a sort of diary of her life, her friends, and her struggles. When I look at her work I can see the world through her eyes. With these images, I wanted to show my thoughts through my eyes. I use myself as the subject to show my darkness.

This exhibition is separated into three different categories to explain my journey through depression. The first being Anguish. This is the aforementioned numbness and darkness that one feels when struggling at the height of depression. The long image represents the feeling like there is no start or finish. You feel trapped in the depths of sadness.

Once you shake the numbness, you can start a return to normalcy. You can recognize the people and things around you, but your brain can’t fully comprehend the role that they play in your life. I titled this section Distortion. These images were taken on film but were sprayed with vinegar then burned to create the effect seen. This to me reads as the times when you know in your head that maybe your friends and family are there for you, but your heart is telling you that you are a burden, that they don’t care what you are going through. This isn’t the case. It’s just a misinterpretation due to depression.

The important thing to remember is that there is ALWAYS a bright spot. It’s so easy to forget when you are struggling. I found it important to mention this because when discussing this mental illness, it’s often overlooked. The way to escape the darkness is to find your center, your comfort. I find my comfort in nature, and also with my family and friends. No matter how misunderstood you feel, knowing that you are never alone and that you have people that are there to help carry the burden is the greatest comfort of all. That is why I titled this section Sanctuary. Knowing where you are the safest and can escape is the best way I have found to combat my darkest moments.

Photos from the Exhibit: