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New 'Arts in Mind' Series Focuses on Artists, Mental Health

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Arts in Mind, a new conversation series in New York from leading artists whose work touches on mental health issues, will debut on Wednesday with “Elegies for Our Lost Asylum.” Visual artist Anna Schuleit, whose large-scale installations have appeared in abandoned psychiatric institutions, and photographer Christopher Payne, author of the documentary book "Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals," will give presentations as part of the first program in the series at Tishman Auditorium. All conversations, which are free and open to the public, will be held at The New School.

The Erikson Institute for education and research at the Austen Riggs Center and the Sandor Ferenczi Center at The New School for Social Research are presenting the series, which aims to extend matters of mental health to anyone interested in the subject.

"Countless books have explored relationship between manic depression and the artistic temperament, and the ways in which creativity can, in some way, be linked to suffering," says author and one of the creators of the series, Joshua Wolf Shenk, who consults on programming for the Austen Riggs Center. "Arts in Mind is a live gathering place where nationally known artists can talk about these intersections, and New York is the center of the art world...the natural home for such a conversation."

Shenk’s award-winning book "Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness" has been honored in the mental health community. (He spoke to WNYC's Leonard Lopate about happiness in 2009.)

Upcoming Arts in Mind events include a conversation on Oct. 20 with filmmaker Jeff Feuerzeig, whose documentary "The Devil and Daniel Johnston" portrays a schizophrenic musician. The Nov. 22 events feature acclaimed poet and memoirist Mary Karr. Karr's recent work focuses on alcoholism, recovery, and Catholicism.

For more information about Arts in Mind at Tishman Auditorium, 66 W. 12th Street, click here.