Through her camera lens–as artist, photographer, and survivor–Joan Malina continues working on an ongoing visual journey portfolio called “Voices: Emerging From Darkness”. Her images are intended to bring light and awareness to the silent, and often invisible epidemic of mental illness. In an enlightened age, this insidious disease often remains hidden and unacknowledged due to stigma, shame, and hopelessness. Sometimes a vast number of those who are in this battle may feel burdened, isolated, and neglect and deny their own needs and feelings. Joan’s artistic voice is used as an expression to give ‘voice’ to those who courageously and bravely fight their own battle everyday. Through her images, Joan hopes to amplify their stories, voices, and messages so that, they can bring light and hope to others. She continues to be touched and inspired by the bravery and kindness of the people she meets as she listens when they share their own personal story. Talking does save lives. She uses her camera to interpret the world around her visually with humility, sensitivity, and compassion. In 2008, at the young age of 27, Joan tragically lost her daughter, Jennifer, to depression and domestic abuse. Her daughter left an unforgettable impression and touched the lives of so many people. It is to honor the gifts of Jennifer’s loving heart and mind, that Joan celebrates her life by sharing her story to reduce the shame and stigma associated with mental illness, suicide ideation, and domestic abuse. In 2018, many of Joan’s photographs were published in a book that was written by Father Charles T. Rubey, Founder and Director of the Catholic Charities LOSS (Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide) program. Joan was selected to participate and collaborate in this unique book project with Fr. Rubey. The book “Seasons of Grief”, a challenging and comforting walk through a difficult year continues to offer hope, support, and healing to people. Joan continues to fight and serve as a champion for change and to give voice by beginning a conversation that may one day may remove the shame that has for too long stigmatized mental illness.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
After a long time career as a National Board Certified Exceptional Needs Specialist, I refocused and returned to my true passion as an artist and fine art photographer. I began my BA in Art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and completed it at the University of Illinois. The inspiration I bring to my photography draws upon my former studio art training that influences the visual images I create. Art has always been a way for me to me to express my emotions without words. It can be self-revealing and sometimes painful as talking. It allows me to creatively process complex feelings and find relief. My artistic voice speaks through the photographs I take to express conceptual and abstract perspectives and address relevant social issues. When capturing an image, I like to use various techniques to create visual harmony by manipulating and contrasting subtle modulations of color, light, shadow and visual patterns as elements of my compositions. My work has been published and exhibited on both local and national levels. Recently received the Perspective Award in the Vicinity 2022, a juried photographic exhibition at Perspective Photographic Gallery, Evanston, IL. Photographs have won awards in Black and White, a prominent fine art photography magazine. Memberships in numerous Chicago-area photography groups: Chicago Photographic Arts Society and Women Undefined have provided outlets for exhibition of my work. In addition, I earned a Chicago Botanic Garden Merit Certification in Fine Art Photography and exhibited in several juried exhibitions at CBG.
© Joan Malina