painting salvation

By Matt Kettmann

Before she turned to painting more than two decades ago, Trinaty Lopez Wakefield was a junkie. She used heroin to self-medicate a severe case of manic depression, which she wasn’t diagnosed with until she was 20. A few years later, Wakefield — who has lived mostly in Santa Barbara since she was five — was still using heroin rather than taking her meds. But during a manic episode in her twenties, she was drawn to painting, dropped heroin, and put her life “totally back on track.” And this weekend, her path to recovery peaks when Wakefield will proudly be one of the featured artists in the 13th annual Mental Health Arts Festival, which goes down Saturday, October 7, at De la Guerra Plaza.

Although she’s “too ill to have a regular job” and still experiences occasional episodes — indeed, this will only be her third festival because she’s had to skip four others — Wakefield is an engaging and cogent talker. “I say that if a mental health patient has artistic or creative abilities and they do not channel it into art, they will be in an institution for the rest of their lives,” she explained. “That’s how important I think it is.”

It was her psychiatrist that turned Wakefield on to the festival seven years ago. So does Wakefield think that mental health professionals are starting to see art as salvation? “I think that they’re getting much more in tune with that.” And it seems about time, for as she admitted, “If I didn’t have that outlet, I would be insane — it gets channeled into my paintings.”

4•1•1 The 13th annual Mental Health Arts Festival is this Saturday, October 7, at De la Guerra Plaza from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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