October 3rd and 4th, Hidden Truths Project co-hosted the 4th annual Hidden Truths, the Mind Unraveled art show and fundraiser at The Gray Matter Museum of Art (GMMA) in Costa Mesa, California. The GMMA is dedicated to education and the use of art to open the imagination in all of us, making this venue an apropos setting for the evening. The art of epilepsy was celebrated with over 200 guests and 15 artists attending the two-day gala and art show. The event raised over $60,000 to support new therapy research, bringing hope to the 1 million people in the U.S. whose seizures cannot be controlled with currently available treatments.
The Kant Institute Director of Curriculum Studies, Dr. Julie Thompson-Dobkin, DO, discussed the success of this year’s event
The exhibition consisted of an eclectic mix of film, paintings, sculptures, poetry, and origami from 72 artists spanning the globe all linked by the common thread of epilepsy. Art has proven to be a compelling medium for educating the public about seizures, creating understanding about a condition that affects nearly 3 million people in the U.S. and 65 million people worldwide.
Writer and director Jim Abrahams, honoree for the evening, surprised attendees with a montage of several of his funniest spoof films, including Airplane! and The Naked Gun. The viewing wrapped up on a serious note with scenes from the film … First Do No Harm. This film stars Meryl Streep, as a mother of a child with intractable epilepsy whose seizures come under control with the ketogenic diet. Abrahams’ son Charlie lives with epilepsy and inspired the creation of this film and the development of the Charlie Foundation for Ketogenic Therapies, an organization providing information about diet therapies for people with epilepsy and other neurological disorders.
The focus of this year’s event was based on stigma and quality of life issues confronting those living with this condition. The psychosocial consequences of living with epilepsy were reflected in the personal statements and art of these individuals.
“Being lonely in a chaotic world is an emotion I have had, especially when society has such a deep stigma about epilepsy.” S.H. India
“A seizure, like a thorn, a tear, physical and emotional pain, suffering, and sorrow, a burden only one with epilepsy can feel … the darkness and loneliness surrounding one with epilepsy. The loneliness fills our heart, as we live with something that is unexplainable.” R.D. Florida
“The portrait presents a person who is in the dark and could hardly interact with other citizens. The reason was their condition was seen as a curse. They would not feel comfortable in interacting with others. The neighbors stigmatize them when they hear that the child was cursed.” C.N.N. Zimbabwe
Each statement resonates with the common theme of stigma and the psychological impact of this condition. These issues confront all individuals with epilepsy without socioeconomic, cultural, or age distinction. Despite the many advances in epilepsy, individuals with this condition continue to be marginalized, viewed as second-class citizens, face discrimination in employment, education, interpersonal relationships, and have encountered other human rights violations. This along with the unpredictability of their seizures has contributed to social isolation, depression, anxiety, and a loss of self-esteem, forcing many who live with this condition to hide in its shadows.
The art of these individuals continues to be a successful tool to instruct, to educate, break down barriers, dislodge stigmas, create understanding, empathy, and acceptance for those who fear speaking out.
Artist credits: J. Rouslin, Video by: Ingrid Pfau