This post touches on eating disorders, body image issues, and mental health.
Mental health is no small affair. Yet, thousands of people worldwide struggle with eating disorders, body image, mental well-being and so much more on a daily basis. Despite this, these issues are often trivialised and stigmatised by society and often can result in many individuals being afraid to ask for help and a result not receiving any. This can result in some serious mental health issues and might leave the person scarred throughout their life. In an effort to solve this, Ally Zlatar started the â€˜Starving Artistâ€™ in 2018, an artist initiative aimed at promoting awareness about exactly this using art!
Ally, who is currently pursuing a PhD on the subject, showcases the lived-in experiences of mental health issues and in doing so gives a voice to stories often neglected by society. Ally was inspired to start this initiative through her own struggles with eating disorders in childhood, where she realised that there was a severe misunderstanding about this issue even within her own family and friends.
Showcasing her love for art and teaching, Ally also reflects on how she was drawn to the Starving Artist and her love for nurturing young voices and opinions. To do this, Ally holds worldwide exhibitions, campaigns, artist talks and workshops. Ally has even written two books on the subject, while one was written by twenty-five international artists, the other is a documentation of Allyâ€™s own struggle with mental health issues. The earnings achieved through these events go towards the â€œStarving Artist Scholarship Fundâ€ which aims to provide people struggling with mental health issues the help that they require.
The Starving Artist initially started as Allyâ€™s own initiative, but as the initiative grew in popularity, several other artists reached out to her because of the relatability of the movement at large. Today, the movement has been picked up by over 30 universities and thereâ€™s even a publication related to this initiative!
Ally also stresses that even though art has been used as an accessory to a movement, through the Starving artist, she has been able to use art as a primary method of communication about extremely sensitive topics that people may not often feel comfortable speaking about but can express quite freely through their artistic voice! This can become extremely important for the young generation, who are still figuring out their identities and often struggle with mental health issues.
To do this, Ally often draws from her own experiences, stories, and feelings to generate art which gives the viewer a glimpse into her own childhood; this could be through a theme or a metaphor or other things to convey her own story which allows people who have gone through the same experience to relate to it and other people to understand their perspective. But this is just one approach and other artists can convey these stories and emotions in completely different ways.