Carrying the weight of 100 stones: Artist unveils project highlighting mental illness
Hundreds of people lined the beach at Point Woronzof in Anchorage Saturday afternoon for the unveiling of the 100 Stone project — an endeavor by artist Sarah Davies more than two years in the making.
The nearly 60 statues showcase the people she’s met around Alaska. Cast in plaster, each statue carries some connection to mental illness.
Many in the crowd were strangers, some were Davies’ friends and, for the first time in a long time, her family. As she unveiled her project to the public, Davies was also revealing her own struggles to relatives she hasn’t seen in more than six years.
“Now I’ve walked entirely out of the closet,” said Davies to her family. “I was thinking about what that was going to mean for you guys and what was going to be new information to you. I didn’t know how else to tell you.”
“You’ve told us now,” responded her grandmother. “You’ve told the world.”
Davies says she used to feel entirely alone.
“I could see everyone around me, hear everyone around me, but I felt entirely separate,” said Davies, who says she’s battled suicidal thoughts her whole life, until a doctor discovered she had a genetic condition two years ago.
“Now I understand that it is a specific chemical, a specific cascade of chemistry that is influenced by my genes. And it’s just as simple as that,” said Davies. “It has nothing to do with me anymore; it’s not a character flaw.”
Davies says one of the biggest struggles was realizing that the world she’d been living in was skewed.
“You think your thoughts are real, you think it’s real, you don’t understand, I didn’t understand that my brain was under duress,” said Davies. “You can have the same thoughts, but under those conditions, they can have very different consequences.”
Davies’ ups and downs are similar to those faced by many of the people who posed for the statues.
“I think seeing the figures, and the figure that I posed for is just a reminder of the layers,” said Enzina Marrari, a model for one of the statues. “How, with every struggle, there’s times you fall down and times and you get back up.”
The 100 Stone statues come in all shapes, sizes and ages — some as young as 12 years old.
“Childhood illness is very real,” said Davies. “I have friends and colleagues who are raising children who suffer, and they will be adults who suffer.”
Davies says she also struggled as a child.
“The first time I considered suicide, I was six years old,” she said.
Davies says she hopes her project can help shed a light on illness that affects people of all ages, at different points in their lives. She says, at times, the weight can feel as heavy as 100 stones.
To learn more about the 100 Stone project, click here.
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