“A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you, and the sentence is your life,”
A few years back a new trend started to show up across the Internet that showed pictures of tiny tattoos gracing the wrists and bodies of people who were not only brave enough to keep on walking their path of life, but who were brave enough to acknowledge and share their stories. Depression, anxiety, postpartum depression, addiction, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, borderline stress disorder… These are only a handful of conditions that are accepted in today’s world, but they are still taboo amid conversation. These are conditions that we cannot see, unless we are acutely aware of the people around us, and even then our eyes can deceive us.
How many times have we heard the story of a person who was the topic of envious gossip, who wore the most beautiful mask for all of us to see, but who struggled with depression? Or that unassuming person next door who seemed to live a pretty normal life apart from fighting with anxiety every day. Maybe the person is a cousin or brother or sister who approached you and said that they couldn’t figure out why they were sad, that they just were, and had been for a long time. The journey can be confusing and frustrating for everyone.
Sometimes we see people walking through life struggling to see past a thick gray fog that billows around them. Sometimes we don’t even know that anything is wrong. And sometimes the emptiness is so heavy, real, and painful… They are so alone that they can’t identify their place in this world. There are some people who even believe that the world would be a better place without them in it – that they are a burden to those around them.
From an outside perspective suicide can seem to come from a very selfish place. A lack of understanding and empathy can lead an outsider to feel hatred instead of love toward a person who was struggling with a very real set of circumstances. Just because one person has never experienced it, just because one person has never seen it, doesn’t mean that it is any less real. Whenever life is at stake, it would be a fool’s game to dismiss the cries of millions of people, who know the battleground firsthand, as folly. Whenever one life is at stake, it would be a fool’s game to dismiss the cry of that person, who knows the battleground firsthand, as folly.
Project Semicolon was developed in 2013 and is a platform for people who struggle with mental illness. It is also a place for people to gather who have lost a loved one, or who still have the blessing of being around their loved one, who struggles with mental illness. Although all mental illness doesn’t lead to suicide, it would be wise for us to become aware of signs of possible suicide, and to become more knowledgeable of the real aspects of mental illness and how it affects people in their everyday lives.
“Semicolon” was inspired by the people in my life who have been affected by suicide and thoughts of suicide. I wanted there to be a sense of hope, love, and comfort in the painting. There is a darkness to it, a blackness that embodies melancholy. There are two versions of this painting, both male and female. They have minimal features and no skin tone. It was important for me to try and create as much of a neutral platform as possible, and be as inclusive as possible, though I know that there are many other versions I could draw in the future for people. (This is a solid place to start, though).
The pointillism technique is symbolic of a period that is found at the end of a sentence – it speaks to the idea that life is indeed finite for all of us. The thousands of tiny dots create a gray figure who delicately embraces their life in their arms. The sphere is their “period” that will rest at the end of their life sentence; they have made the choice to hold on to it.
A portion of the fabric of their life that has already been lived unravels from their calves and their feet. It flows below them hinting at gray memories that they will leave behind. The fabric of life clutches around their thighs and hips, with the hope of many bright and wonderful memories that lie ahead. White from the fabric and the orb create a bright semicolon against the gray and black of the rest of the painting.
The quotes on both paintings start and end with an ellipsis (…) that represent the continuation of life on either side of that choice. Their story isn’t over.
…they had a choice; they chose to live…
Thank you so much for visiting my blog. Please take a moment to visit the Project Semicolon website, and take a look at the step by step making of “Semicolon” above. Below are detailed pictures of both the male and female versions of “Semicolon” by Erika Robertson.
Take some time to tell the people around you that you love them. Take an hour and listen to them. Be compassionate, be loving, and try to understand each and every journey – don’t try to fix it – just listen. Sometimes this is all we need. You might help save a life.