February Artist Feature, The Self Care Studio
It's February 1st, and I could not be more eager and excited to kick this month off with our first Featured Artist here at MotBS. And in the wake of the new year and all of it's clean new energy, it feels only too appropriate that this month's artist is none other than Jenna Knapp of TheSelfCareStudio.
Jenna is not only brilliantly articulate, (seriously every time I read anything written by her I have one of those classic spine-tingling emotional "someone put it into words!!" moments, usually followed by a mix of epiphany driven relieved and happy tears,) but her art has a purpose and drive that is ever relevant and everyone can relate to.
So my friend, have you heard of self care? Of course you have, it's everywhere. Within the last few years, the concept and practice of "self care" has become abundant and worldwide. Whether you practice small moments of self care daily, have never taken the time to try it, or have actually never heard of it at all, keep reading.
Why do you think self care has become such a main focus over the last few years?
"I feel committed to focusing on self-care both privately and publicly because it is what helps ground me when I’m not feeling well. It is the way I know how to take care of myself. It is the source of my happiness. It is the pep-talk I give myself when I know I’m not doing a good job of putting myself first. It is my personal form of accountability that I feel I must hold onto to prevent another hospitalization. My current self-care practice is all about preventative care instead of reactionary. I don’t do a great job of it all of the time, but I am working really hard to not let my episodes of mania and depression wear me out like they used to. I am determined to keep healing. And I know that it is a process, a long evolving road. My bipolar diagnosis is something that won’t go away for me, so it is important for me to have a full variety of tools ready for me to fight with."
What brought you to SCS?
"I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder about three and a half years ago – the same summer that my Aunt Anne committed suicide. Her death sent me into a severe depression that led to my own suicide ideation, which led to a psychiatric hospital, which led to antidepressants and sleeping medication, which led to an onset of mania, which led to my diagnosis. It has been a long road figuring out what works for me and what does not. As I learned more about bipolar disorder, I realized that I actually went through stages of hypomania many times in my life. This included over-committing, over-scheduling, not sleeping, not eating, and a constant stream of racing thoughts. That was my norm for years and I never felt like anything was ‘wrong’. I thrived on the sixteen-hour days at the studio and I loved it. Why would I think I was ill?"
"The long road of trial and error led me to a second hospitalization two years ago that had less to do with my grief and more to do with a severe bout of depression. Thats when I realized I really need to work on practicing my preventative care. After my last hospitalization I realized that I needed to find a way to keep practicing everything I had been learning in inpatient and outpatient. I was exposed to all different kinds of art therapy, CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy), and occupational therapy. All of which were having a huge impact on the way I was approaching day-to-day life. I wanted to find a way to hold onto that and translate all the new knowledge I was accumulating into something less clinical, combined with my passion for art. Hence, The Self Care Studio was born. Initially the project existed only online and included me posting illustrations and writing surrounding topics of mental wellness and self-care but over time the studio has evolved into producing self-care merchandise and has an Etsy store, pop-up shops at art and craft markets, and hosting a variety of hands-on sensory workshops that encourage people to carve out time for themselves and slow down."
And last but certainly not least...
What would be your number one "must do" for anyone new to or trying to practice self care habits more frequently?
"Have frequent talks with yourself. That might look like meditation to some. Journaling to others. Sitting in the bathtub for an hour a week. Or driving through the country with the windows down. Perhaps it is standing in the wind outside bundled up in the snow just to hear the silence. Just make sure you are checking in with you and asking yourself what it is that you need. What is serving you? What can be let go? Our society is quick to instant gratification and craves distraction. And instead of sitting with ourselves we would rather bathe in social media scrolling, online shopping, or Netflix binging. But sometimes, in the silence, we invite a certain part of ourselves to the surface that can help us redirect our energy, focus on our goals, or heal our relationships with ourselves and others if we are willing to be still and listen."
I will leave this on that beautiful soul-shaking note. I hope that in reading this you found something that resonated with you, made you think, or encouraged you towards a life going forward filled with much more self care. And I hope to see you right here again next month, when we continue the practice of sharing more artist's we love so much.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
On a quick personal note, I want to thank you very specifically, reading this, whoever you are, for being here in this moment and reading this blog. I am not a finisher. I have struggled with that trait my whole life. This very important blog post is a huge step in a direction for me that I have been dreaming of and grasping at for 8 years. So thank you, again. For being here, supporting MotBS, and (hopefully) sticking around for all that is yet to come around here.
Until next time,
You can find Jenna on her website or support her around the web
Jenna Knapp is an artist, author, curator, and community arts organizer living and working in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Knapp graduated from Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design in 2014 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Since graduating Knapp has received the Mary L. Nohl Fellowship for Emerging Artists, been a guest at international multidisciplinary residency programs in Amsterdam and London, and exhibited locally and nationally. She self-published her first book, I Kept Things I Did Not Need, in the summer of 2017. It is a collection of poetry, prose, photographs and archived material addressing the subjects of grief, loss, survival, and the different evolutions of healing. She continues making work and hosting events relating to mental health and self-love through her current projects; The Self Care Studio and SQUASH Seasonal Support Group.
*All images and content in this article are property of ©TheSelfCareStudio/Jenna Knapp 2019 and ©MarchOfTheBlackSheep/Ariel Apple 2019*