All images by John William Keedy. Used with permission.
“My undergraduate degree is in psychology, and years ago I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and both of those things played a large role in creating the images.” says fine art photographer John Williams Keedy about his photo project entitled It’s Hardly Noticeable. “At the start of the project, I don’t think I realized how much I had inadvertently based the character on myself, but soon recognized he is like me in a number of very real ways, and though it’s not my main intent by any means, I realized the series could serve as a method of personal investigation.”
If you had to summarize what anxiety looks like in an image, it would probably be really tough to creatively think about one of the most frustrating feelings that human beings experience. But photographer John Williams Keedy has had experience and tell us that the project grew out of a previous body of work that tackled personal identity and an interest in issues of psychology.
To Mr. Keedy, the images are super personal and hit very close to home. In fact, a lot of them are from his own experiences but pushed to grandiose levels. The fact that he was diagnosed with anxiety coupled with his undergraduate study in psychology greatly influenced his art. John found that creating the images indulged his anxieties. He states,
“The images in which the character (played by me) is shown, establish the importance of the performative nature of the work, while at the same time, allow me the opportunity to explore to what degree these are images of a character, and to what degree these are images of myself and my own anxieties. This perspective provides me distance from which I can more clearly and safely examine my own self-identity, replete with anxieties.”
Though John hasn’t set out to show the work to other sufferers of anxiety, he states that he gets emails from others that say that they’ve felt the same way that the images portray. “I was really quite honored that a number of them have said that it was the first time they felt as though someone else understood how they felt. As I said the work is quite personal, so I’m extremely pleased that other people can identity themselves in the work.” John continues to say that he has always had a difficult time describing anxiety in words, which was one of the reasons he chose to talk about it through images. It taught him that a number of people have struggled putting their experiences into words as well, which he thinks is part of the reason why they respond so strongly to the photographs.
“I have also heard from a large number of people that the images helped them to feel less alone when confronting their anxieties and pathologies.” says Mr. Keedy. “I think there is a stigma that goes with mental illness which causes some people not to talk about it, so I’m hoping my work will both help those suffering from mental illness to feel less alone, less as though they are the only ones dealing with these issues, and to help open a discussion among those without mental illness to eventually eliminate the unfair stigma that can accompany it.”
John states that he is continuing to work on the series, and creating new images and exhibiting them when he can. For now though, you can follow the rest of his work on Instagram.