Louise Bourgeois said, ‘Art is a guaranty of sanity.’ Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2016, I admit, derailed my life and my denial of it elongated this experience. Now that I am healthy, I strive to become a positive voice within the mental health community as an artist, curator, and culture producer. I hope for my work to make conversations about mental health less taboo, and as a vehicle for this discourse, I created Sofia Mish.

Sofia is my other half, literally. I like to think of us as a Lady with a Fault Line: as powerful as an earthquake and divided by the lines in the earth of our body.  Sofia crawls along the floorboards of my human flesh home and makes herself comfortable in the folds of my skin. Many people try to define her as a pseudonym, but that is much too easy to swallow for a woman so rough around the edges. It is more truthful to define her as a performance, a fictitious reality, a living personification of a mental illness. 

The goal of my current practice, more specifically with my recent collaborations with Sofia, is to form an understanding of the presence of mental illness within my body. I strive to demonstrate the transformation that can take place by developing healthy habits, taking medication, and pursuing creative endeavors. The personal is political and writings on mental health by both Kay Redfield Jamison and Bessel A. van der Kolk ground my conceptual investigation of Sofia, as well as help argue her relevance within our greater society.

Julie Stopper