Parke County artist Christel Gutelius will share Part 2 of her “Depression & Back: A Retrospective” series of paintings in December as River City Art Association’s Artist of the Month in the Vigo County Public Library in Terre Haute, Indiana.
The acrylic and mixed media pieces in Part 1 of her series, on display through Nov. 30 at the library, depict many of the overwhelming emotional and physical struggles that Gutelius tried to overcome through her art, which are evident in the titles, “Camo’d Chaos”, “Pain,” “Fatigue,” “Medicated” … and “Help.”
After creating the first 11 expressionistic milestones in her road to recovery from depression, Gutelius found herself at a turning point.
She had made a decision.
“The question was ‘Am I going to sit here in this hole, just lay in it and give up,'” Gutelius said.
“I decided I needed to do something. What choices did I have? What could I change? What was unchangeable? St. Francis’ prayer became very real to me, and I wanted to explore the answers. In order to do that, I needed to be ruthlessly honest with myself.
So, ‘Speaking My Truth’ became a painting and I had to commit to that.”
“Speaking My Truth” and eight other acrylic and mixed media pieces on display in December in the library will show a change in Gutelius’ approach to healing and therefore in her art.
She began painting her way back.
“While some may have found other means, because I am a Christian, when I dealt with my fear, I painted ‘Prayer,’ in which the blood of Christ flows from heaven directly down to me, because I chose to look to Him,” Gutelius said.
“‘Grace’ was born out of a need to find forgiveness toward those who hurt me and to myself.
“When I tackled my intense anxiety, ‘Meditation’ and ‘Breath & Body’ were important to me. These two pieces show how I was paying attention to my breathing, and where in my body there was tension or pain, and I tried to gain a better flow of energy throughout.”
Gutelius also connected with nature when she could. “Feeling the breeze, hearing the sound of the leaves, the water on the shore, touching the trees, or tasting the rain in the air” inspired her paintings titled “Nature” and “Walking the Shore.”
Along the roads to Alabama to visit her son, Gutelius gained some perspective. “Couldn’t see the forest for the trees, comes to mind,” she said.
The painting, “Solidified Layers” came about “as I thought of how my doctor once told me that therapy was like an onion. Getting through all of the layers, so you know what the true issue is,” Gutelius said. “I really felt like it was more like a geode, with hard dense stone to grind at until you got to the gem.”
Gutelius said she has found a few gems over the course of her journey. She now pictures herself on “The Golden Path,” the last art piece in her retrospective series.
“I surround myself with caution (symbolized by orange in her mixed media piece) and remain diligent of thoughts, people, situations and surroundings, while doing my best in not allowing worry and anxiety to take control,” she said. “My truth is that I know in my deepest being that I receive the Divine Love of God, and through it all He was with me, even if at times I doubted His wisdom and could not feel Him there. I believe together we conquered my fear and I found forgiveness for myself and others.”
Gutelius said she still struggles, physically often, mentally and emotionally at times. “But, I have found my toolbox, and I’m not afraid to use it!”
By sharing her story through her artwork, she hopes that “someone else may find some tools that they can explore to find their own truths, and in doing so, find some peace and healing.”