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How I Explore Mental Health Through My 'Bird Girls'

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I am a local artist out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, currently an art major and psych minor at the University of New Mexico, and have been creating for as long as I can remember.

My Bird Girls have become a story I must tell, but it didn’t start out as having to do with mental health.

an illustration of a bird

I created my first Bird Girl with the idea that sometimes in our society women are looked at as meek. And myself being a five-foot-tall, smaller young woman, get that a lot. Women are looked at as not being good enough, smart enough or strong enough in our society sometimes, and I wanted to show that through my art that we may look weak, but we aren’t. Just like birds who can carry immensely heavy things, create beautiful nests and are really stunning creatures.

And yet, as I was working on them they became something more.

I realized I was putting my own stress, angers and anxieties into these Bird Girls, which gave me the idea to create images that can spark conversations about mental illness. Because what’s better than raising awareness through cool art? Though I am just getting started putting my work out there, I have found through meeting people randomly that so many people struggle from something, and yet our society has taught us not to speak out about it. To keep it quiet because you might be looked at differently or you might be looked at as weak. And yet, if we did speak about it, not only would we stop feeling marginalized, but we would also realize we are not alone in our struggles. Through my Bird Girls I hope to raise awareness for not only mental health, but also other important issues, but because I have struggled with anxiety myself and have watched family and friends struggle with other mental illnesses, most of the time my work comes out as such.

Here are some of my pieces and I am working hard at creating more! At the moment I am working on a piece for addiction, so keep an eye out for that! If you would like to keep up with me, see more or buy an original or a print, you can check out my website at, or through Facebook @Alexandrea.GArt or Instagram @alexandrea_gowan

I hope you enjoy my work, and that they can fill a place in your heart as they have my own.



Illustration of two birds

illustration of a woman with a bird face


Artwork by Alex Gowan

Originally published: March 3, 2017
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