Using Self-Identity to Bridge Understanding of Human Condition

Research Focus:

Cari Freno
Assistant Professor of Art and Art History

Cari FrenoCari Freno’s art—video footage, sculpture and drawings—doesn’t provide answers, but instead insists that viewers continually question. Her latest work explores her family’s history with mental illness. In a project titled “Unearthing”, Freno uses video footage of her uncle and grandmother as a starting point to explore her role as a new mother and the history of behavior that shaped the understanding of that role. “My project gave me a chance to think about how my uncle’s decline into mental illness and my family’s helplessness in coping with it shaped my views of the world,” she says. In the studio, she uses the process of making art as a tool to own her story and better understand the human condition. She asks the same of her students in the classroom, by encouraging the exploration of personal themes and helping students navigate the boundaries of this research.

Her goal for student work is that everyone is learning—the students about themselves; the viewer about a perspective different from their own.

“Art has the potential to function as an experience that creates meaning in the world. It is a way of communicating an emotional truth that can help you relate to other human beings.”

mental health brain