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John Ellis
PTSD Therapy: Spinning Head


Artist Statement:

I have been (appropriately) described as “addicted to chaos.”

There are no black and white solutions to problems that don’t yet exist.

I have always been a visual person.


I don’t know why these 3 statements came to mind, but they together describe this collection almost perfectly. My “Spinning Head” collection of vertical spin acrylic is completed while in mental health episodes as part of my PTSD treatment plan. Sometimes they’re completed while stressed or experiencing flashbacks, but sometimes I just need to make a mess. Regardless of the reasoning behind it, I decided to put paint to canvas and show how my brain feels while in these states of being.

I think everyone can agree that the “Covid times” were weird, strange, and alarming for many people. Though I don’t know the specific numbers I do believe that there was a major uptick in regards to depression and depressive episodes, compounded by the restrictions that were placed. I don’t think people fully understand how this fully impacted others.

One of the pieces is titled “Waterboarding” and another is “Drowning”.

While in the military I was part of a training exercise that had me placed in a staged interrogation. That training got out of hand. Now wearing a face-covering of any kind has become a triggering event. Just to buy groceries I was forced to cause an episode. Being embarrassed at a hardware store because of the face mask requirements. These pieces aren’t political or a statement but instead, a visualization of the way my invisible scars show. I hope that when viewing them you, the person, can see that there are scars that cannot be seen.

YouTube videos taught me different painting techniques in addition to studying graphic design online with DeVry. My high school art classes taught the basics of what would be considered “visually appealing”.

I wanted something different and original. Existing abstract pieces and artists were too formulaic for my taste: like a cubist Picasso or a “Kandinsky,” the pieces always presented what they were - an eye was an eye, a clock was a clock, building a building. Yes, there was emotion in the work, but that didn’t present a broad enough scope for personal interpretation. As a result, I gravitated to pour paintings, spin art, spray paint scribbles, and doodles that mean nothing to anyone but the viewer. This style is one I would only describe as an ABSOLUTE abstract.

Absolute abstract style could be anything. I feel it is a way to describe the emotions of chaos vs control and the values of color to lead to an overall appealing finish. This type of art has gained popularity through the internet as being not only easy enough that anyone can do it but also unpredictable, which makes for a satisfying finish. This satisfies my 3rd point of introspection: there are no black and white solutions to problems that don’t exist. Seriously though, using color to add an emphasis and letting the paints move the way they want to once placed on the canvas. The problem that doesn’t exist now has a solution.

The problem- I don’t like what exists. The solution- create yourself a piece worth liking.


This collection is what it looks like to feel the stress, memories, and daily obligations of life. Please do not let the names of the pieces throw off your perspective of what the work is trying to say. To everyone it will speak differently. A tree may be seen where others feel a volcano or you may feel a rainbow where someone sees pain. I agree that a certain understanding of standard visual aspects make things appealing to the masses (balance, symmetry, warm and cool colors, etc) but let the pieces break those rules and focus only on how they make YOU, the individual, feel.

death to the 90s.png

Death to the 90s
Price: $115.00


Price: $275.00

Price: $200.00

If you are interested in purchasing a piece from the exhibit or have questions,  feel free to contact us!

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