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Name: Amaranthia Sepia

Pronouns: She/Her

Location: New Hampshire, USA

Email: amaranthiasepiaartworks@gmail.com

Socials: @emobunnycomic

Website: AmaranthiaSepiaArtworks.Art https://linktr.ee/_cutiehipsterart_

Artist Title: Comic Artist, Illustrator, Character Designer
Bio:
Amaranthia Sepia (@emobunnycomic) is a mental health advocate, comic artist, illustrator, and character designer of African-American and Caribbean (Bajan) descent. Her mediums are focused on ink and digital art. She is also a budding art coordinator with a focus on minority inclusive, unconventional activist artworks. Sepia was previously a lead organizer/art coordinator and the lead on media outreach for the grassroots collective ARTivism Initiative, and was an artist and collaborator for LA mental health non-profit, The Painted Brain, for their disability art show, “Discovering a Place for Us.” Her advocacy includes using art to raise awareness about mental health/illness and Black health disparities. 

Representation of Black people/Black women and women's experiences are crucial parts of her artwork and art coordination. As a Black woman with invisible illnesses, Sepia feels it's critical to use her voice and pen to create the representation of her and many others long to see. She's developing a mental health comic, "Emo Bunny," about a bunny girl whose anxiety is personified as a monster. Her series, "Surviving in Isolation: The Black Mental Health Experience," illustrates how Black people face discrimination in mental healthcare.

When Sepia faced racism due to bullying in American public school after returning from Japan, she found peace by making comics based upon fond memories of Tokyo. Bullying worsened her health, forcing her to enter online school. Soon after, Sepia developed an anti-bullying traveling solo art show titled "I'm Proud of Who I Am," occurring between ages 13-16. This began her activist work.

 
Curls and Curves (Celebrating Shades of Black Beauty)
Series: “Protect Black Women"
© Copyright
Curls and Curves Series - PROTECT BLACK WOMEN  - Amaranthia Sepia and Claire Jones.png
"Black women are so unprotected & we hold so many things into protect the feelings of others without considering our own. It might be funny to y'all on the internet and just another messy topic for you to talk about, but this is my real life, and I'm real-life hurt and traumatized." -Megan Thee Stallion

This piece is a personal work in collaboration with my Mom, Claire Jones (clarityisjustsohip.com). It's been in development for ten months. While developing the concept, a lot of emotional turmoil emerged. I experienced back-to-back mistreatment in volunteer positions, severe misogynoir within my family, my emotional support cat diagnosed with hereditary gum disease, and ongoing panic attacks ultimately leading to several months of depression.

I feel Black women are always looking for a place of security.  I think that so many Black women are neglected, lost, and can never find a place that's accepting and empathetic- a place to rest and not feel like we have to handle constant burdens. We're so unprotected, and it's painful to see and experience firsthand. To view so many Black male idols getting away with mistreatment of Black women and girls, the disregard of our humanity, the lack of accountability is abhorrent. The only time a few of these celebrities get taken down is if they harm a group with more social influence, privilege, or power than Black women. My Mom and I always feel like we're floating, and when we find a place that might be accepting, we're fearful it's just an illusion, and we'll be hurt again by misogynoir. The harm we face in the Black community doesn't help. If our community- our own home- doesn't protect us and take accountability for the hyper-masculinity, toxic masculinity, and patriarchal, homophobic mindsets rampant within Black culture, then who will?
"Emo Bunny: Anxiety Monster" in "Anomie"
- A Four Page Comic
© Copyright
Emo Bunny Anxiety Monster in Anomie - A Four Page Comic - Amaranthia Sepia.png
"Emo Bunny: Anxiety Monster," is a comic about anxiety disorders. Sarah, nicknamed "Emo Bunny," suffers from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). She illustrates my own experiences with GAD. Her anxiety appears as a monster who becomes stronger as she becomes stressed. Many sufferers feel their anxiety is a monster's voice in their head.

"Anomie" is the first full-length comic. It's Sarah's origin story on how bullying, oppression, and ostracization led to her mental illness. It's based on my personal story of facing racism/bullying in an all-white community. When reaching out to my own Black community, I was rejected due to being open about invisible illness and being Buddhist. My anti-bullying/anti-racism project, "Do You Know Who I Am?" addressed racism and my own experiences in my school, but I was ostracized by teachers and the principal. I became homeschooled online. This led to an identity crisis.

See in full on AmaranthiaSepiaArtworks.Art
Hidden Demons of Anxiety Series: Mask 3
- Memories of Trauma
© Copyright
MASK 2 MEMORIES OF TRAUMA 5 by 7 - Amaranthia Sepia.jpg
“Hidden Demons of Anxiety” is a surrealistic interpretation of my anxiety at age 17. While dealing with low cortisol, I learned GAD made it worse.

Fascinated with Japanese culture from living in Japan, I found peace by creating artwork based upon fond memories. Scary Japanese noh theatre masks inspire these pieces representing the anguish anxiety causes.

The individuals in the series are in pain due to wearing a fake image. The image they create makes it hard to seek help for their mental illnesses; the illusion looks perfect. The pieces represent how the phony image (mask) eventually takes over and becomes a demon. “Mask 3: Memories of Trauma” depicts how it feels to have PTSD, resulting in a rush of traumatic memories coming back to haunt you. When these memories cause an anxiety rush, it feels like an opposing force rips your mind.

Read Full Essay: https://amaranthiasepiaartworks.art/hidden-demons-of-anxiety
Edges
See Amaranthia and Claire’s piece “Curls and Curves” paired with Claire’s poem, “Edges” accompanied by dancer Jocelyn Davis. Featured by The Painted Brain in their virtual disability art show, “Discovering a Place for Us.”
Mental Health Questions
How had the pandemic affected your mental health as a woman/femme creative? Have certain things improved for you or have gotten worse?

In 2020, COVID made me lose a gallery opportunity for my comic, "Emo Bunny: Anxiety Monster," and a charity opportunity with NAMI to overcome my agoraphobia. I fell into a deep depression. Losing those two opportunities put me in a downward spiral, where I had  panic attacks, PTSD nightmares, and insomnia. Before the pandemic, I kept losing gallery opportunities because of racism, ableism, micro-aggressions, and false promises.  I refused to pick up an ink pen. When the BLM movement blew up, I felt utterly broken, especially when Black women/femmes didn't receive enough acknowledgment. What turned my life around was when my series, "Surviving in Isolation: The Black Mental Health Experience," was featured in "The Postcard Project," hosted by ATAC160 and ARTivism Initiative. Working with ARTivism for their BLM show, "This is a Movement, Not a Moment," took me out of that dark place and taught me that coordinating is my passion.

What is your power word or phrase that helps you overcome mental struggles?

"Make a f*ck it adjustment."

When I was 14, I started online school after being bullied and ostracized out of public school. I found this gaming channel where one of the members said his teacher taught him the art of making a 'f*ck it adjustment" when things aren't going your way. I guess at the time, I had to make so many adjustments in my life to survive that hearing that little phrase and story made me laugh so hard and really resonated with my life situation. Since then, anytime I've faced discrimination, lost an opportunity, or had to cut out a toxic person in my life, I say, "f*ck it adjustment!" and make a radical change.

How do you think mental health/mental illness has affect you as a girl/woman/femme and how you’re perceived? How do your creative outlets help you manage your mental health? 

I've faced ableist attacks within my family based on misogynoir. There's this idea in the Black community that we can't be mentally ill. We go through so much already; why would we wanna deal with another thing that'll marginalize us more?? The stigma of Black women being stronger, aggressive, and pain-resistant exists in and outside our communities, making it harder to be taken seriously. Growing up, my African-American relatives made it clear: My Blackness comes first – don't identify with being a Black woman - no, I could only be "Black." I learned masculinity was at the top. On the other hand, the effects of the intergenerational legacy of domestic violence have my Bajan family members trapped in patriarchal mindsets.

My radical Mom taught the opposite. However, dealing with these family members made it hard to figure out my identity. That's why I started making artworks about these dangerous attitudes.

What is something you wish people were more aware of that disproportionately affects women’s mental wellbeing? Do you use your art to raise awareness about this issue? If you have statistics/resources for this issue please share any! 

According to BlackburnCenter.org in their 2020 article, "Black Women & Domestic Violence", 1 in 3 women and 1 in 10 men will face domestic violence in their lifetime. However, 40% of Black women will face domestic violence in their lifetime. On the other hand, only 31.5% of women will experience this abuse. 53.8% of Black women have experienced psychological abuse, and 41.2% are survivors of physical abuse. We are 2.5 times more likely to be murdered by men compared to women. These killings are 92% intra-racial (same race). It is the number one health issue plaguing Black women.

Read the full article here:
https://www.blackburncenter.org/post/2020/02/26/black-women-domestic-violence

My Mom and I plan to develop more collaborative pieces highlighting these findings and our own experiences with surviving trauma.