Gerhard Richter once said, “Art is the highest form of hope,” and hope is the message in Ambler Hutchinson’s haunting solo exhibit at Jacksonville’s Florida Mining Gallery. Visual Artifacts – One Mind Two Realities takes the audience on a visual journey through the dark hallways of Hutchinson’s mind, to the excruciatingly gorgeous place where her depression, anxiety and mental illness find a catharsis.
A work of art symbolizes the artist’s profound anticipation – it exposes their deepest wants and resolves internal conflicts. A work of art is also an offering, and great art makes the viewer feel a little uneasy, as if they have stepped into a private space or listened to a whispered secret they were not meant to hear.
Ambler Hutchinson’s work will make the viewer feel uneasy. It is vulnerable, tenuous, and proffered like something precious but a bit disturbing in her hands. Visual Artifacts is a daring exploration of Hutchinson’s psychological discomfort. She uses a host of different mediums and a crazy cache of the weathered fragments others discard to convey
the complexity of being human, reveal the beauty in brokenness and showcase the redemptive power of art.
Florida Mining Gallery owner Steve Williams says, “I look at a lot of art and have done so my entire life. This body of work keeps me interested, engaged and fed. The work itself is strong, but add the story and it becomes emotional and touching – deep to the core of who we are. I am proud to be part of Ambler’s unveiling and to showcase healing art in the gallery.”
Hutchinson has an MFA in Photography from the Savannah College of Art and Design and has been making and exhibiting art for twenty-six years, but she has never before disclosed her thirty-three year struggle with bipolar II and the severe depression that goes hand in hand with it.
Hutchinson says, “The illness affects almost every aspect of my life, yet I have told
relatively few people, due to the stigma that surrounds bipolar II. Having a mental illness can be isolating on many levels – to live with bipolar II is exhausting enough – and this perceived need to hide, makes it even harder to get help. I have decided to share my story through my art. The images in Visual Artifacts are meant to be uncomfortable, but if I can help someone or educate someone by exposing my pain, I can lift the veil of shame for the millions of others who suffer with mental illness in secret.”
Article written by Marilyn Spiller