Pilgrimage | March 2023
We love June Gutman's prolific drawings that feel like pages torn from a modern illuminated manuscript. Using her own elaborate symbolism and iconography, June uses her artwork to retell her lived experience navigating the psychiatric system and the search for her self in the process.
June on her process and experience: "I am a Jewish woman and self-taught artist born and raised in Montreal, Canada. I am fixated on producing tangible evidence of my experience of reality. My acute awareness of my own existence has been present throughout my life; I have remained in awe of and shocked by my own consciousness since childhood.
At an early age, my sensitivity to life resulted in a quick admittance to the psychiatric world and I spent my formative years as a psychiatric patient. I am now in the process of carefully ridding my system of the medication I took for most of my life, trying to free myself from the confinement of diagnosis and re-learning who I am without the medicalized opinions of the mental health industry."
"While I fight to withdraw from medication I took since childhood, I am presented with many seemingly unmanageable symptoms, one of which I name 'The Terror'. Much of my art is in response to this nightmarish state; I am desperate for relief and I ache for an accurate documentation of this baffling condition. Beyond terror, I live with many other experiences that dodge words; many bizarre, borderline-psychedelic and sometimes mystical moments that fall into the category of 'Unreality'.
My psyche is rearranging itself as I suffer and heal from years of adhering to the 'mentally-ill' narrative, being over-medicated and only knowing darkness; my art is an attempt at detailing this life in images. Simultaneously, my art is a comment on the opaqueness, the privacy, the secrecy and the hidden nature of the individual mind.
My attempt to educate an audience on psychiatric-harm (and safe tapering methods) is very important to me. I am far from alone in my experience as a psychiatric-survivor and through my art, I am also fighting for those whose lives have been stolen by psychiatry."