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Meet Michaela Griego in Tempe

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michaela Griego.

Michaela, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I have always had an interest in the arts, but when I got to high school, that’s when everything kind of fell into place and I realized my path. Even though I started out taking graphic design my freshman year of high school, I always made my way back to painting somehow — whether it was watercolor, acrylic, or oils. I think the reason I always made my way back was that I was trying to find a way to express how my mental health was making me feel. Eventually, I made my way traditional teaching, instead of learning on my own, in my senior year of high school. I loved my art class so much that it inspired me to go on to study professionally in college, and the rest is history.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has definitely not been a smooth road along the way. My mental health has always been a barrier in life. Recovery from mental illness isn’t always a straight path. I have a lot of ups and downs due to the nature of BPD and Bipolar Disorder, but I feel like because of my art, the way that people are connecting to it, and building a sense of community — I’m starting to overcome it.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
I am a painter in Arizona who talks about mental illness and the effects of living with it, particularly my experiences with Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. By abstracting emotion onto canvas, I am able to describe the indescribable. Those who do understand the effects of living with mental illness can connect to something that explains their own feelings, and those who do not can understand where others are coming from. I am trying to open up a dialogue about mental health.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I think the proudest moment of my career so far has been the show I had at Cedar Mill Bible Church in Portland, Oregon. It was so exciting when someone reached out to me because I had been wanting to reach a wider audience. I wasn’t able to attend the show myself due to other responsibilities, but to see the comments from the show was incredible. It was touching to see that others were connecting on such a deep level.

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