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Heather Hua

Agoraphobia

I have been gloomy and depressed from the time I was an adolescent, so painting became the way in which I could push away the emotions, and then transform those intense feelings into meaningful art. When I am inspired by complex emotions, I think about how I can capture the beauty and vitality from them. This predicament arouses the tension and makes the theme of art powerful. In addition, having been influenced by literature and comics, I have gradually built my own language to depict the scenes and express the emotions via visual art.

Agoraphobia depicts a dream sequence in the form of a picture book. I got my inspiration from dreams and memory fragments, threading them into this story in a logical way through emotional changes. There were various strong emotions haunting me while I conceive this project, but the scenes that finally precipitated in my mind are very restrained.[read more]

The tone of narrative is subtle. Readers may have their own interpretations that deviate from mine, but this does not bother me. In my interpretation, the protagonist experiences panic attacks in public spaces. She wants to escape but has nowhere to hide. The depression and anxiety build, causing various symptoms like hallucinations and the feeling that everyone around her is scrutinizing her. And finally, she breaks down. The protagonist returns to the place she was born, to find the reason why she has such feelings. She rides a frog, passes by a desolate zoo, and returns to her home on the mountain. Father is reading on the phone and mother is cooking frogs. The protagonist realizes her inner child at that moment. When this inner child collides with her insecurities, she feels like a freak when facing the boy she likes and whoever is around her. The protagonist chases the inner child all the way, coming close to being able to hug her at the end.

In this project, I integrated pathological features such as anxiety, depression, and hallucinations into the ordinary life scenes. The atmosphere is filled with emotions, which makes people experience an ambiguous discomfort that is difficult to articulate. I loosely drew in pencil to let the scenes happen absurdly and unmindfully, as well as elaborately rendering some pieces to create a sense of realism. In this project, the real world and the psychological world are overlapped, indistinguishable, and integrated.

I enjoyed using traditional media, including watercolor, Gansai, and colored pencil in this project. Colored pencil allows me to draw loose lines and gives the atmosphere texture while looking rendered. Transparent watercolor formed the base of the distinct dreamy world, and Gansai added the thickness. The profound features of traditional media give me the space of exploring illustration as well as building fine art works. Digital techniques are also used in post-production.

To the viewer who looks at this work, whether they experience Agoraphobia or not, I would like to bring them into a fantasy journey in the psychological world, to understand the hidden pain and joy in the depth of one’s heart.
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