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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