Celebrating Female Desire … Art by Paola Rossi

Art, Mental Health

This month’s featured art celebrates the free expression of love and passion between women while exploring the conflict between our inner darkness and light … Meet Peruvian-Italian artist Paola Rossi.

I am a non-heterosexual, sensitive person that has struggled through depression and TOC during my 20s. Having these characteristics, I have looked for ways to be more emotionally balanced and have found relief in many artforms and things such as meditation. I have created art since I was a child, often linked to surrealism because of my imaginative personality, but not limited to that, since I have also connected to other art styles, like abstract and figurative works. I have oftentimes tried to create artworks as original and authentic as I can, works that emotionally and visually impact the viewer. My creations are about the feelings that impact me the most, and I approach them using diverse mediums, ranging from traditional to contemporary, often mixing them to have more possibilities of expression.

Two women who have accepted their sexuality, freely enjoying sex and feeling intense pleasure due to that. Made in an experimental, playful manner using a handmade drawing I created, photographed and digitally edited with a mobile app and computer program.

What inspires you most as an artist?

I am inspired by feelings, especially the ones that I have lived more intensely, such as non-heterosexual desire, heartbreak, depression and the will to emotionally heal and become more balanced. Said in a more academic way, my works are related to Freud’s psychological theory on Eros and Thanatos. According to him, all of us have a life and death drive that are indispensable, exist in everything we do and are in constant conflict. Eros is life, vitality, dynamism, the will to survive, the search for pleasure, sex, sexuality, union and the wish to generate deeper, more complex relationships with oneself and others. Conversely, Thanatos, seeks one’s own death and tries to satisfy aggressive impulses directly and indirectly to oneself and others. It manifests in many ways, for example, in anger, denial, unhealthy behaviour, the absence of action or connection with the world, giving up under difficult circumstances, loss of hope and depression. So, I have created artworks on Eros and Thanatos, inspired by my own identity as a non-heterosexual person, someone who has identified as a woman and a man simultaneously (non-binary), that has had a strong Thanatos expressed in depression and TOC and that has found a therapeutic recourse in art.

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What medium satisfies you the most?

Nowadays, I don’t have a preferred medium. I use whatever medium I am most drawn to in the moment for the specific project I am working on. Over the years, I have noticed, I tend to have a period where I use a certain medium in an individual and traditional manner, followed by another period of a lot of experimentation, where I mix several mediums in ways I haven’t done before. As if it were a cycle. During my experimental phase, I often take my traditional works and rework them, using my curiosity, play and spontaneity to create something new. In my creative process, I use mind, body and soul. Parts of the process are done from a more rational side, planning things, making maps, lists, etc. I mainly connect directly with my emotions, impulses, spontaneity, playfulness and curiosity. I also use my body, sensations and explore movements and actions with it, training and taking care of it in the process. Some of the mediums I use are painting, drawing, photography, circus, contemporary dance, theatre, lights and shadows, mobile phone apps, computer software and video.

Photo by Paola Rossi on October 22, 2019. Image may contain: one or more people.
An experimental self-portrait from the years I first begun to work with my own body in artworks. Made in a playful manner, using a wig, a phone and an app to edit the image.

What would you most like to express through your work?

Art as the free expression of the soul and as a means of emotional wellbeing.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently in the creation process of a year-long, experimental project that will result in a video performance that expresses what I have felt during quarantine. The final video will combine the vast experimental work I have done this year on diverse mediums adapted to the house, such as: circus, contemporary dance, theatre, scenography, lights and shadows, painting, drawing (sometimes including writing), photo, sound, video, mobile apps, and computer programs. My conscious intentions with this work is to do something unconventional and experimental that combines my previous knowledge of different arts, especially those that I have been most passionate about whilst growing up, like painting, drawing and circus, with the new knowledge I have been acquiring through this year’s process. It is a way of expanding myself, pushing myself further than I have previously done. It is a creative process that includes mind, body and soul, involves very planned things, but also very spontaneous actions, and it even has an amount of unpredictable to it. This artwork is connected to mental health care, since the creation process has helped me feel better by liberating the emotions. It also involves exploring and registering the therapeutic qualities of art and sharing what I learn through social media and eventually in my thesis. It is my hope that I create strong images which impact visually and emotionally and which others can relate to. I also wish to connect with the public by showing the creation process in my Instagram. The final work will be published later this year through all my social media accounts.


Photo by Paola Rossi on September 07, 2019.
My own erotic drive showed in an oil painting. Painted in a more rational, traditional, manner than the other images here.

How are you received as a woman who paints naked women?

I have been very lucky, and I am grateful for the positive reception I have been having. When I first started doing nude and erotic lgbtq+ works in university, there was a lot of excitement in several of my peers. I started out doing very explicit and surrealistic images, so they caught a lot of attention. I was applauded for doing something taboo and unconventional in a very traditional society. Some people have told me that they think I am brave for being open about my sexuality and representing it in my works. They support what I do since it is linked to the acceptance of one’s own sexuality in a country that is generally not very open or accepting on these matters. When I started posting my works on social media, whilst still at university, I was invited to radio and tv interviews, as well as group exhibitions in other cities within my country and internationally, to places like the MAREA, which is a Latin-American Museum of erotic art, in Colombia. So, thankfully doing lgbtq+ works, which is something I am very passionate about, has opened doors for me. But above all, I think I am lucky and grateful for having such an accepting family that supports me.

Photo by Paola Rossi on December 24, 2018.
A very fast, impulsive drawing made as a way to sublimate desire.

How does your own sexuality influence your work?

My sexuality has been the main influence of many of my works. I have often represented my non-heterosexual desire, fantasies and experiences. It is my relationship with my own sexuality, the acceptance of it and the feelings and experiences that arise from it that oftentimes motivate me to create.

Photo by Paola Rossi on November 28, 2017.
I was exploring composition possibilities from photographs I had taken, and enjoyed the idea of an almost infinite perspective and two women posing in a sensual manner.

All artwork © Paola Rossi

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Giving Shame the Finger!

Louise Clare Dalton. “Let’s talk about shame baby, let’s talk about it and me, let’s talk about all the good things and the … oh wait. Hon, let’s not kid ourselves, there isn’t much ‘good’ to speak of when it comes to the shame surrounding sexuality and queerness.


Who Am I, What is My Purpose? Art by Nicola Copsey

Art, Lesbian, Mental Health

It was my attempt to express all the elements of autistic sensory overload, for example light, sound and vision, to people on or off the spectrum, as many people have no idea what living with this aspect of life is like.

My name is Nicola Copsey and I am a forty-six years old artist. I was diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism/Asperger’s in 2014, following a lifetime of mental health struggles with depression and acute anxiety.

An example of my literal thinking is when I was asked if I would feature on this blog, a question that was posed to me was, “Where do you do your best thinking?” I responded, “In my head of course!” 

I have always gravitated towards technical drawing throughout school and college as I struggled with the freedom of expression in other forms of art. I never considered myself to be an artist because of this, although people said I was talented. Due to this, I have no recollection of what I class as my first creative piece of artwork. What I do remember at seven years old was attaching some of my “creative images” to a wire clothes-airer and then charging 50p to my relatives to view them.  My mum has subsequently told me “They weren’t that great!”.

Over the years, I have spent a lot of time on my own because of my conditions. This has given me the opportunity to reflect on all aspects of life. There is not one specific influence/artist that I can attribute my style towards as it’s a conglomeration of all that I’ve absorbed throughout my life.

Who am I? A visual typographical representation of the one question I constantly ask myself

After my diagnosis, I started to try and portray elements of autism and mental health in a visual way for other people on or off the spectrum to relate to and help them understand some of my struggles.

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Many of the pieces I have created are a visual representation of the struggles I have experienced within myself and continue to live with. Because of my technical background and the constraints within my autism, I have a tendency to use monochromatic colour within my pieces whilst experimenting with different art mediums. Therefore, each piece has its own individual style in the way it portrays its meaning.

I was asked, “how does being gay impact your work?”
Coming to terms with my sexuality has been another enormous mental challenge that I have and continue to deal with in addition to everything else.  It has not been overtly influential in my imagery to date but is an aspect within them. For example, my first piece was hand-drawn in pencil, ‘Who am I, what is my purpose?’ It is a visual typographical representation of the one question I constantly ask myself.

Fragmentation – Losing Control. Mental order falling into chaos.

The second image I have chosen is “Fragmentation – Losing Control” hand drawn with black pen (and a ruler for the squares!) When we are naked, we are at our most vulnerable, as portrayed by the woman falling through the black and white squares. These squares represent mental order falling into chaos with the body moving through them.

My third choice “Unclear” began with me doodling with a blue Biro. The scribblings created shading, and this developed into the final piece. It visualises the intense struggle of conflict in my head. This process of creation was unique to me, as most of my pieces are far more structured from concept to completion.

Unclear: The intense struggle of conflict in my head.

“Internal Dialogue” was my fourth choice. It is a handwritten typographical picture. There are two elements to this piece: the first is the concentric layers in a skull shape, the text representing the thoughts that swirl around in my head like a whirlpool, consuming me from the inside out.  When the image is enlarged enough you can clearly see that the second element, the whirlpool of text, is actually a multitude of quotes and thoughts that I have experienced throughout my lifetime.

Internal Dialogue: Thoughts that swirl around my head.

The final piece is a photographic montage called “Sensory Overload”. It was my attempt to express all the elements of autistic sensory overload, for example light, sound and vision, to people on or off the spectrum. As many people have no idea what living with this aspect of life is like.

Sensory Overload: Photographic Montage

I hope that by opening up to people through this blog, it will help others with their personal battles throughout life.

All artwork © Nicola Copsey 2020

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