Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Monday, November 26, 2012

Video of the Day: Is the "Crazy Artist" Stereotype True?

Posted By on Mon, Nov 26, 2012 at 8:30 AM


An ear here, a life there: Vincent van Gogh, Virginia Woolf, and Sylvia Plath each had their own way of dealing with mood disorders. In her new graphic novel, cartoonist and storyteller Ellen Forney asks an important question: For artists, are mental disorders a gift or a curse? Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir, explores the aftermath of the bipolar diagnosis that arrived just before her 30th birthday, prompting Forney to fear that the requisite medications would decimate her creativity, and eventually, her entire career.

See also:

Crafting with Cat Hair: Not Just for Crazy Cat Ladies

MAD Magazine Taught Us How to Laugh at Fame and Power

And yet, she was also suddenly a part of an elite group: "The sense of heaviness was alleviated by a back-handed sense of cred. ... I was officially a crazy artist." Forney spent the next few years researching the lives of artists and the clinical realities of the diagnosis, taking comfort in William Styron's Darkness Visible and other memoirs on the challenge of finding mental stability while cultivating creativity. She alternately employs optimism and dark humor as she revisits a struggle familiar to millions of Americans. In addition to a personal narrative, the book is full of practical information about the disease, common prescriptions, and coping mechanisms, offered through black-and-white images and evocative prose.

Ellen Forney reads at 7:30 p.m. at Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Belvedere), S.F. Admission is free.

For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.
  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , ,

About The Author

Alexis Coe


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"