Maz Fietz, 27, from New South Wales, Australia is a visual artist, personal trainer and a Mother of two.
ASLI first discovered Maz on Instagram and we were in awe of her amazing work and determination to further the cause for mental health awareness and suicide prevention.
ASLI are excited to support an exhibition which Maz is hosting for her charity “FOREVER YOUNG” to help raise awareness and stop the stigma associated with mental illness and suicide. The show will be held at “Gracelands” Forresters Beach, Central Coast, NSW on Friday 9th October 2015.
We shall be speaking to Maz in the September and there will be more information to follow.
Here is our interview with Maz Fietz:
What motivated you to deal with your chosen submission subject?
The stigma of suicide and mental illness has to be changed and when a relationship I was in ended by suicide I knew that I was going to help create this change and art was a perfect way to express this.
What is your process when creating?
My interests and how I’m feeling at the time is how I begin the process with the choice of artwork, whether it be the subject, colour, or size and I take it from there. Expressing yourself through your art is when you get some of your best works.
Who are you influenced by within your artistic discipline?
Growing up I was always influenced by my brother’s artistic talent. I then grew to appreciate Andy Warhol’s visual art movement of Pop Art and in my recent years, tattoo and portrait artist Christopher Nieves. Any form of art influences me whether it be through music, visual, sculpture or dance. They’re all different ways of expression which is very important.
Who inspires you in general?
I have lots of respect for anyone doing what they love and believe in, but my family and close friends are definitely my inspiration!
What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for?
One of our major issues is that the world is full of judgment, which creates such stigma toward mental illness and suicide.
What do the statements “art saves lives” and “art creates change”
mean to you?
No matter how “out there” someone may seem, it doesn’t mean that they don’t struggle to talk about their emotions or problems they may be having. Sometimes we just don’t feel up to it or think that there’s no one we can talk to. Through my experience art has helped me express these emotions but also escape from them at the same time. The fact that my artwork can bring a smile to someone’s face is an absolute blessing, so my aim is to take this and make people become aware of the struggles people deal with on a daily basis and create change in a positive way. “Art Saves Lives International” is an amazing team that help to allow us to bring our talents together and find ways to create this change.
Have your artistic and creative outlets saved your life in anyway and do you think your message within them could help create change in the world?
It’s an important form of expression that’s helped me mentally cope, especially when it’s hard to find the
words to to say it. I’ve used my art to raise awareness on stopping the stigma on suicide and mental health. It can be quite upfront for some at first but my aim is to catch people’s attention through my art and create that change that could help save a life.
What are your present and future goals for your art?
I’m currently getting ready to hold an art show this October to raise awareness on mental illness and suicide prevention. I’ve always wanted to have an art show but when Joel passed I realized something had to be done. Life’s too short to wait around so I’m using my art to bring people together and realize that we need to make change. Whether you feel comfortable about the subject or not, it’s reality, and that’s not easy to accept.
The following question are about mental health as this is our current ASLI Campaign:
Can you tell us about your own experiences with mental illness?
When someone isn’t mentally well, all you want to do is be there for them and do anything you can to take away their pain. When Joel took his life I began to feel some of the pain that he’d been feeling, depressed, anxious and lonely. Everyone experiences mental illness on their own level, which doesn’t make it any
better or worse. Fact is, they are struggling and need support.
How does your artistic /creative expression help you with your mental health?
It was one of the only things I got out of bed for when Joel had passed. Art was my “addiction”, without it I felt nothing. Along with music, it was how I could connect with him and escape from reality.
Have you ever experienced being stigmatised or marginalised due to your mental health or have you seen this happen to someone else?
The shit thing is that when someone commits suicide people put their own judgement on that person when
most of the time they’d have absolutely no idea of the pain and loneliness that person was feeling to bring them to that point. Comments like “It’s such a selfish act, because now look at how much everyone around them are struggling!” Yes we are struggling because someone we loved has gone, but imagine the pain they were going through to bring themselves to that terrifying point. If people weren’t as selfish and judgemental then mental illness would be less stigmatised.
Have you ever received treatment for mental health and if so, what was it, did it help and was it private or state funded?
My work has been really supportive and offered counseling sessions. I’m someone who doesn’t always talk about how I feel, so I wasn’t really looking forward to it and each time I’d feel anxious.
But I trusted the process and had faith that things would get better. It was a good way to help accept my emotions and try to understand things from another point of view.
Do you think society and culture is accepting of people with mental illness?
Mental illness is still definitely taboo within society and culture. There’s so much pressure being put on
teenagers through social media and even adults with the pressure and stresses through work and responsibilities of being a parent. They may not know how or who to talk about their struggles, or may not want anyone to know how much they truly aren’t coping with what they think they’re suppose to be. As soon as someone
is “labelled” with a mental illness then automatically they’re judged.
How do you feel your Government in your country helps people with mental illness and could they do more?
The government have provided some really helpful organizations on mental health, but more needs to be done. It should be a subject taught at every school and workplace and support for families and friends on how they can help someone that may be mentally unwell. Suicide still remains the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 to 44, so clearly more needs to be done.
Have you ever had any creative therapies as part of your treatment, did it help?
Art has been my therapy through the whole process, whether it was trying a different style or just doing what I was use to. Just go with how you feel and learning that it’s ok to feel that way.
Do you think artistic / creative expression can be used to help people with mental health problems?
Definitely, it gives them a way to express themselves when they may not have the words to
say it or know who to say it to.
Do you think artistic / creative expression could help raise awareness and communicate how mental illness affects people?
Art is an awesome form of expression and you can get a feel for for that through their art. It’s a way to release thoughts and tension rather than keeping it all inside.
What made you want to get involved with ASLI’s MENTAL ILLNESS, HEALTH AND RECOVERY CAMPAIGN?
A good friend of mine told me about ASLI not long after Joel had passed. All I wanted was to help make change, especially with the use of art, and this is what the team at ASLI are about. I love the diversity of people that get involved and they all have amazing stories and experiences that they’ve gone through that has brought them to where they are today.
Do you believe in more rights for mentally ill people in the workplace and for equal opportunities?
Of course, no matter the circumstance, if someone is suffering then help should be provided then and there. No one wants to feel lonely or unloved.
We at ASLI want to de-stigmatize diagnosis labels within mental illness so that people treat others and their own mental health label as that of a diabetic or any other chronic “physical” illness, as we know the brain is physical and this would further improve stigma and marginalising mental illness. How do you feel about diagnosis labels?
This is one of our biggest issues. I’ve had family and friends with “physical” illnesses. Its a very sad
and difficult time for anyone who is unwell and suffering from any kind of illness, but as soon as someone is “mentally ill”, they are instantly stigmatized, and people think that they chose to feel that way. If it was then no one would be mentally ill.
Everyone within ASLI is affected in some way by mental illness, with our MD having several chronic mental illnesses and other members either caring for or dealing with mental health issues. Would this make you think twice about working with ASLI? And does this make ASLI “less professional” in your opinion and if so why?
When I first looked into ASLI and read about the different ways each team member had been affected by
mental health, I was instantly inspired and given even more motivation to follow what I believed in. Not only do they share their own experiences with the world and show how art has helped them, but the team at ASLI regains hope for people.
Are there any artists/creatives/performers which you admire, who suffer from mental illness that you feel use their work to discuss or highlight mental health?
People who I admire would have to be those that share their stories and experiences to create a positive change, whether it be someone you’ve never met before or someone you’ve admired all your life.
Finally is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself or your experiences?
If I can share my art with the world, stop the stigma on suicide and mental illness and create
positive change then I’m on the right track! A really big thank you to the team at ASLI and the positive vibes they
give to everyone!
If you would like to know more about Maz Fietz please follow her on Instagram @maz_fietz and for any further information please contact the artist directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
And don’t forget to support this amazing event! Even if you are not from the area or able to attend, click on the images and follow this amazing event via instagram:
Book tickets HERE