This series of over twenty-five paintings (samples here) chronicles the story of my brother Jason—and our family—from his infancy to his untimely death in a motorcycle accident during a manic episode at the age of 34: his light, his darkness and his inescapable struggle with the mental illness that ultimately consumed him.
By the time Jason was twenty his distinctive stripes—like those of the zebras he always loved—had fully emerged. And, like a zebra, he was a rare and exotic creature, impossible to domesticate, quick to panic under stress, his mood shifting sometimes instantly from joy to anger and suddenly needing to confront or flee.
Hence, the stripes that emerged as I tried to recall my brother represent not only the highs and lows of his affliction but the prison bars that entrapped his beauty and innocence in an inescapable cage of fear, anger and shame.
After each manic episode, Jason would reach out to friends, colleagues and family, hoping to repair the bridges he had broken by his impossible behavior. In his scattered writings, he struggled to explain the fear and revulsion caused by his bi-polarity, "Eliminating the stigma of mental illness is something I take to heart."
I undertook this series to find and reveal the human behind his disease in the hope that by illuminating my brother's struggle, we might—one day—eliminate that stigma.