Jean-Marie Martin Creates Beautiful Art in Wando’s AP Art Program


Abby Vorhees, Co-Sports Editor

Art is so much more than brushstrokes on a canvas.

For many, it’s a source of enjoyment. A way to escape the monotony of everyday life.

For others, it’s their refuge and way of coping.

Jean-Marie Martin, a senior in Wando’s AP Art program, has just finished a concentration centered around mental illness and the effects it has on those suffering from it.

“My inspiration for these pieces was my own experiences and the experiences I’ve had with my friends through their own struggles with mental illness as well as my struggle with mine,” Martin said. “A big reason behind doing these pieces was to show the major impact they have on people that isn’t necessarily seen by others.”

In this concentration, there is a story behind every piece.

“In my concentration piece, #6 Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, the girl that it is centered around has had several hospitalizations because she has scrubbed most, if not all of the skin off of her hands because she is so scared of germs,” Martin said.

In this piece, Martin is trying to convey both the seriousness of those illnesses and the huge impacts they have on people.

“While people can make a joke about being OCD because they like to have their binders neat or they color code things, that is not the real illness. The real illness is ugly, and it is hard, and it is so painful to watch someone go through that alone,” Martin said. “I want people who have these illnesses and don’t talk about them to know that they’re not alone.”

The last piece in the concentration is called Happiness.

“It means hope. As someone who has mental illness and who has struggled with it for several years now, it’s the idea that recovery is not a black-and-white situation,” Martin said. “It’s difficult to accept for a lot of people, and for me, that recovery from mental illness is not wellness. You can never get over a mental illness. What you can do is live a happy life. That is true recovery.”

People suffering with mental illness face this challenge every day — the challenge to stay who they are and live a happy life despite their illness.

“I think it gives people something to look forward to. It gives them a reason to keep going when they don’t want to anymore. Because I know a lot of people like that. I’ve lost friends, I’ve lost family members because they couldn’t find something to keep them going,” Martin said. “So to me the piece means the most because it is nothing but an expression of why I should keep going.”

It’s not just this piece or this concentration.

It’s art.

Art has been what held them together through the toughest and darkest parts of their journey with a mental illness.

It is so much more than a pretty picture.

And Jean-Marie Martin is living proof. Art truly does keep people going.


“Art has been one of the only things that can really quiet some of the symptoms that I face on a daily basis, either through expression or through the imagery that I need to get some cathartic release from,” Martin said. “In times where my anxiety has been so bad or in times where I have been in a bad place, art has been one of the only constants that keeps me going.”