by Casey Dig
Art is about passion, creativity, expression, and perspective. I sat down with Goz and explored how these all come to life in his art and what makes him tick. What I discovered was eye opening.
Goz got his feet wet in art in one of the most surprising places, a VA mental health inpatient program. He used his art to communicate the things that he could not bring himself to say to his psychiatrist. Now that is powerful especially with what he said was “a dark cloud over mental health treatment”. As a society we have come a long way trying to remove that dark cloud but, in some ways, it is still there. You can see that expressed in his artwork. It seems that he is portraying a raw emotion in the pieces that he creates. Almost as if he is telling a complete story without any words being written or said.
First, let us look at his piece titled, “putting on a front”. To me, the piece just looks like an abstract piece of a human face. Now, let’s look at it from Goz’s perspective. To him, the lower part of the face is someone telling people what they want to hear to convince them that he is ok. While the upper part of the face is someone in pain. Someone fighting a battle every day, but who is too scared to come forward. Someone who is suffering in silence with an unbearable burden. A burden that he says he has felt himself, not just on himself, but also on his family. It’s important to note that Goz suffered in silence for almost 8 years. That is a long time to have that emotion build up. He then explained to me that the reason was because the community that he grew up in, in the military, you were looked at as weak if you sought mental health treatment. At least that is how he felt that it was perceived.
Now let us look at his piece titled, “thought process of origami”. To me, this piece looks like a skeleton with an origami bird being folded. But, to Goz, it is a delicate process being displayed. Every fold of the bird representing that delicate process. I asked him what he meant by a ‘delicate process’ and he explained it to me. How his mental health treatment was almost a battle to find the right doctors. He uses the symbolism of origami and its fragile process to show how the wrong medication, an improper diagnosis, or the wrong wording could take someone’s treatment progress all the way back to the beginning of their treatment. Or worse, scare them off and leave them broken and resistant to return to treatment.
Finally, let us look at his piece, “it’s ok to not be ok”. This, to me, must be one of his most powerful pieces. A solider who is obviously in pain being comforted by an unknown hand. Goz explained that, to him, he used to be that solider in pain, but after all that he went through, he now wanted to be that anonymous hand helping others speak out and get help without fear of being perceived as weak.
It’s important to Goz that others know that you are not weak if you seek mental health treatment – you are strong. It takes a lot to say, “I’m not ok, I need help”. It is also important to understand your resources and be open with your doctors. Goz’s perspective on this through his art sends a powerful message and conveys the true meaning of “it’s ok to not be ok”.
Find Goz at: Facebook.com/artbygoz
Goz can also be found at The Kirkwood Performing Arts Center: The First Semi-Annual Pop Up Exhibition featuring 25 local artists from the Saint Louis area. Goz is one of those 25 featured local artists.