Dysphoric Mania: Cassie Harper
22 February 2023 - 30 June 2023
Artist(s): Cassie Harper
Location: Niddrie Library
Dysphoric Mania is the archive and documentation of the tumult of living with mental illnesses as conceived by artist Cassie Harper. Through a series of colourful, manic, and meditative drawings on paper, Cassie shares intimate and vulnerable encounters with healthcare institutions, art therapy, and the contradictions that co-exist within oneself and one’s mental illness.
'Dysphoric Mania' is a term used with Bipolar patients that describes behaviour that is both ‘elevated’ and ‘depressive’ at the same time. It is commonly referred to these days as a 'Mixed Episode'. In 2021-2022, Cassie spent 3 out of 4 months in psychiatric and rehabilitative care over 4 admissions. The prompting for the first admission was an out-of-control episode that would later be diagnosed as 'Dysphoric Mania'. Whilst in hospital, Cassie attended art therapy where she created linear mindfulness drawings referencing experiences of mental instability, gender identity, her lived experiences, and places of trauma. Whilst manic, she would expel energy onto sheets of paper, conjuring and recreating the sights and sounds she heard whilst in heightened states. The admixture of calm, calculated drawings with erratic, volatile manic drawings featured within the exhibition act as visual representations of what it is to experience ‘Dysphoric Mania’ from a personal and individual standpoint.
Cassie Harper (she/they) is a recovering alcoholic, a manic shopper and an Aries. She is on three types of medication to keep her stable. Sometimes they wonder if they are working at all. Their psychiatrist says they are, so that’s $200 per 15 minute session well spent.
Her practice focuses on mental health, advocacy, rehabilitation and interpersonal effectiveness (with a particular interest in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing). As an Artist with Bipolar Type I, Substance Use Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder she focuses on therapy pathways (including art therapy) and styles that emphasise the importance of communication, how we communicate and engage and how we process and digest (sometimes emotionally taxing and difficult) information. They utilise mediums, including drawing, as a means to convey motifs and emotions.