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The Jury Is In. Creative Consensus Part I: Marriah Skurja

Where do creatives weigh in? I wanted to find out, and gave some contemporaries the following question: "Mental health and creativity. How does one affect the other?" I serve as the visual arts chair for Arts in McNairy, a local arts organization near my home in Selmer, TN. In that capacity, I've gotten to know some wonderfully creative brains. I tasked them, along with some other artsy connections, to dig deep. They didn't disappoint.

McNairy artist, Marriah Skurja, turned to art as a coping mechanism when she gave birth to her baby girl, Zoey, nearly 13 years ago. She had virtually no interest in what she called "true creativity" until that time. Marriah stated, "My mental health was tested with the challenges that came with the birth of my third child, who we knew could potentially have cognitive delays before her birth. She is, indeed, autistic, globally delayed, and non-verbal."

Marriah stated that the reality of her diagnoses hit hard, and her mental and emotional health took a gut punch. She felt pushed beyond her limits. Marriah remembered, "I feel like painting was given to me as a gift to help me heal." She insists that she would have never gone looking for artistic outlets prior to Zoey's birth. She didn't feel that creative tug to express herself before, and embraced it as a way to navigate the highly emotional challenges her family was facing. She reiterated, "For me, creativity and mental health go hand in hand."

Thirteen years later, Marriah is still painting. She pours vivid colors and emotions onto her canvases a couple of times a week when her schedule allows, and had her first solo show last fall.

You can see Marriah's work here:


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