It is estimated that more than 264 million people of all ages around the world suffer from depression. (1) Polish artist Dawid Planeta is one of them. To express his struggles to others and help guide his healing process, he turned to his craft: Art. In his series Mini People In The Jungle, he uses misty, fog, and giant spirit animals to represent his journey through the dark areas of his own mind. (2)
Art and Spirit Animals Guide Artist Through Depression
Polish artist Dawid Planeta is no stranger to the dark and difficult battle that depression can be. He decided to turn his depression into art in his series Mini People In The Jungle. The images are all dark and brooding, with fog and mist making it hard to see. They also feature two important subjects: A tiny human facing down gigantic, somewhat scary-looking spirit animals. (3) “It’s a story of a man descending into darkness and chaos in search of himself,” he says. (2) Despite their foreboding appearance, the spirit animals have bright, shining eyes that seem to be guiding the small human through the dark and moody scenes.
Diving Deeper Into Emotion
“Depression – it’s not easy to deal with, but when you try, you can stop thinking about it as a weakness and turn it into something brilliant,” Planeta explains. “That’s what I aim to accomplish with my art. [The] things I’m trying to depict are dark, mysterious and frightening, but if you look closely, you will find excitement, passion and joy.” (2) For Planeta, art allowed him to dive deeper into his emotions and the dark places of his mind and express them to those around him. You can see more of his artwork and spirit animals on his Instagram. (3)
As Planeta and his spirit animals show, art can be incredibly therapeutic, especially for those struggling with depression. For Planeta, it allowed him to express things that he couldn’t find the words for. For many, it can be a place of calm, somewhere where they can explore themselves or find solitude from their mind and their troubles.
What is Art Therapy?
The American Art Therapy Association defines art therapy as (4): “an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.” (4) It is often used in conjunction with other types of therapy. It can help with a wide range of conditions, such as stress and anxiety disorders, depression, trauma disorders, and coping with physical illnesses like cancer. (5)
Under the direction of a professional art therapist, art therapy is used to:
- improve cognitive and sensory-motor functions
- foster self-esteem and self-awareness
- cultivate emotional resilience
- promote insight
- enhance social skills
- reduce and resolve conflicts and distress
- advance societal and ecological change
Mediums employed by art therapists include:
Consider Art Therapy For Yourself
As Dawid Planeta and his spirit animals can attest to, art can be a highly effective way to explore your emotions from a more objective, observant perspective. By turning his depression into art, Planeta was able to work through his feelings in a positive and constructive way. (3)
Want to Try Art Therapy?
If you are interested in using art therapy in your own life, search for a registered art therapist in your area who can help guide your practice. Remember: You are not alone. If you are struggling with your mental health and need help, reach out to your local mental health hotline. If you’re interested in seeing more of David Planeta’s work can check it out on Behance, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr
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- “Depression.” WHO. January 30, 2020.
- “Explore Dawid Planeta’s Mystical World of Bright-Eyed Animal Guides.” This Is Colossal. Kate Sierzputowski. May 2, 2018.
- “minipeopleinthejungle. Instagram.
- ” ABOUT ART THERAPY.” Art Therapy.
- ” How Art Therapy Is Used to Help People Heal.” Very Well Mind. Kendra Cherry. May 11, 2020.