Melissa Spitz is a working artist from St. Louis, Missouri. She received her BFA from the University of Missouri-Columbia and her MFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Today we share Melissa’s series, You Have Nothing to Worry About, exploring family relationships and universal issues surrounding mental illness.
You Have Nothing to Worry About
You Have Nothing to Worry About is a complex and difficult body of work that can be broadly defined as documentary photography. For the last five years, I have been making photographs of my mentally ill, substance-abusing mother. Her diagnoses change frequently—from alcoholism to dissociative identity disorder—and my relationship with her has been fraught with animosity for as long as I can remember. I am fully aware that my mother thrives on being the center of attention and that, at times, our portrait sessions encourage her erratic behavior.
The photographs are simultaneously upsetting and encouraging; honest and theatrical; loving and hateful. Corresponding to my mother’s current bipolar diagnosis, conflating these seeming binary opposites is the only way to make photographs of her that are remotely valid. By turning the camera toward my mother and my relationship with her, I capture her behavior as an echo of my own emotional response. The images function like an on going conversation.
“I Fell Down and Broke My Jaw”
Hole in the Wall
Mom’s Breast Cancer Scar
Xanax from Mom
Red Wine on Mom’s Costa Rican Nightgown
Two Weeks After Appendectomy
All of Mom’s Prescriptions
To view more of Melissa’s work please visit her website.