Date of Graduation
Master of Fine Arts in Visual Studies
Art and Design
My art deals with mental illness, particularly schizophrenia, PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), and addiction.
It is how I work out the problems in my relationships and within my head. My art is where I explore
ideas, alternate possibilities, my dreams, and my fears. Drawing inspiration from photographers such as
Jerry Uelsmann, Richard Avedon, and Irving Penn; painters like Caravaggio, Picasso, and Bacon, as well as,
concepts from the Surrealists and the Futurists, the art I produce is dream-like: familiar objects in unrelated
places. The work that I create stems from years of working with patients in their most acute states. For over
a decade in an Adult Inpatient Psychiatric Unit, I worked with, and cared for those with mental illnesses.
I was drawn to those who were suffering from Schizophrenia. I might be close enough to relate, touched
enough to understand, or just insane enough to get a sense of their worlds. I use several juxtaposed images to
replicate both movement and multiple points of a figure. This approach shows the struggle that I witnessed
in patients and the frustration that I had in trying to go where I couldn’t. Within a stack of juxtaposed images,
I display various states of the fight I have with the situation; anger, helplessness, exhaustion, defeat, and
acceptance. It is a terrible position not to be able to reach someone who needs help. We often end up harming
ourselves in our attempts to save them.
schizophrenia, surrealism, dreams, photography, installation, mental illness, PTSD, addiction
Art and Design | Arts and Humanities | Interdisciplinary Arts and Media | Photography
© Neal G. Polallis
Polallis, Neal G., "Not All Dreams Are Nightmares, Not All Nightmares Are Dreams" (2020). MSU Graduate Theses. 3523.