Guest Author - Nicole Pickens
The story “Gwen” was a disturbing tale of mentally illness. She was a young homeless woman of New Orleans. She was described as ugly wearing a motley collection of clothing.
She was an artist with a portable assortment of colored pencils and pieces of grey rough paper. Gwen used her artistic skill to solicit her daily bread but found it hard to accomplish as she moved about from one street and establishment to next.
When her subjects refused to purchase her work of them, she retaliated by punishing their images in a variety of ways but they seemed to end up in the same basic place.
The story was written in a voice that blurs its true identity. The narrator vividly described images in their immediate environment as a carousel of citizens usually found in legendary neighborhoods like the French Quarter.
The theme I noticed the most was the correlation between artistry and madness.
Scientists have noticed a parallel between the two for over forty years and it has produced many fascinating studies.
There isn’t a definite connection that artists have or will be stricken with mental illness. There are plenty of healthy creative people in the world and yes there are some who definitely struggle in their personal disease.
Gwen seemed to be a prime example of how close art and psychosis can get and how alarming that can become. She poured a tremendous amount of energy into creating her images. Most of her perspective focused on what normal people would consider as mundane, yet to Gwen they stood out fiercely.
This story also awakened the reader of how the mentally ill coped with their personal challenges. They are not required to seek professional assistance as long as they do not endanger themselves or others, yet they are barely capable of supporting themselves to live humanely. They are the unfortunates of society who are not at fault for who they are and how they live, but victims in constant search of how to manage their perception.
Gwen was a reject of society who had incredible artistic skill but her neighbors chose to treat her as invisible and ultimately untouchable, in spite of the culture she could add to the world.
Louis Maistros is a contemporary writer, resident of New Orleans and survivor of hurricane Katrina. His literary accomplishments seem to be many and he has reawakened readers to the diversity of his beloved home as it continues to rebuild itself through the citizens who love and cherish it.