A frantic saxophone and a wild trombone duo on stage, moving their instruments in spiraling movements. The stage backdrop features an abstract painting displaying a mess of vibrant colors and rectangular shapes. On closer look, one sees a wide variety of expressions ranging from anger to joy.
The City of Asylum hosted a concert on Sunday that featured jazz by the late Thelonious Monk accompanied by abstract paintings by Norman Klinki in an exhibition titled “Music, Visual Arts, and Mental Health: Clinky Meets Monk.” The event addressed topics such as mental health and the legacy of trauma from the Holocaust.
city of refuge On the North Side is an organization that seeks to provide refuge to artists and writers who have faced persecution in their home countries. The organization also hosts a wide range of free art events.
Lisa Parker, who came up with the idea for “Klenicki Meets Monk,” is director of the Pitt Center for Bioethics and Health Law. She said the event links issues surrounding mental health stigma as well as intergenerational trauma.
“The exhibition brings together ethical issues related to mental health and its treatment … with ethical issues surrounding the Holocaust, which are part of the legacy of research ethics and bioethics because of the experiences that occurred,” Parker said.
Both Klinke and Monk faced challenges stemming from bipolar disorder, a condition in which one experiences swings between manic and depressive feelings.
Kliniki said his art is a medium of expression, an intuitive process that allows him to place himself in each piece. He added that it was during his obsessive phases in particular that he became very productive with his art.
“I always worked intuitively, and I felt like a conduit for a universal energy that, you know, just came through,” Klinicky said. “In the 1990s… the drugs were not good and had side effects so I stopped taking the drugs. To a large extent, I was on fire. I painted day and night, I produced 300 to 400 paintings.”
Parker said that Monk showed similar patterns because of his condition.
“Monk has had the same experiences as far as we know… You can watch a movie with him, and watch his pitting and animation and excitement as he composes and performs,” Parker said.
Parker added that by uniting the works of two artists with similar living experiences, the exhibition hopes to highlight the similarities between those with and without disorders.
“It’s good for others without a mental health condition to know that people with mental health conditions engage in the same kind of creative and intellectual activities,” Parker said. “It makes a person with bipolar disorder just like you and me.”
Klinke expressed a similar sentiment, hoping that art can make mental illness less frightening.
“Making my situation and Munch’s situation public, and as far as music and painting are concerned, can make it less stigmatizing,” Klinicky said.
Clinical website It centers around educating others about mental illness as well as addressing intergenerational trauma.
“The main thing for me is the website because the website teaches about the Holocaust, because my parents are both survivors, as well as mentally ill. I hope this is to make people more aware of both.” Kliniki said.
“I let the paintings tell me what to choose,” Wendt said. “I was looking at the paintings and thinking of one of Monk’s tunes. It added a whole new dimension to my music.” [Monk’s] Music.”
Klinicky also shared that his parents were both Holocaust survivors who experienced the horrors of Auschwitz.
“It’s a miracle that they were even able to start a family and get on with life. For example, my mother would wake me up at night screaming, and she’d have nightmares about that,” Klinecki said. “My mother actually developed mega-epileptic because of the beating she had received from one of the German SS men and that was a constant reminder.”
Despite his struggles, Kliniki has persevered and has produced work of which he is proud. He said he could get better medication and now has a better relationship with his mental health.
“I work slower, because I’m not coming from the same place. Now I’m better, I’m healing, so I’m calmer, so it’s different. I work out three or four hours every day. It’s therapeutic, meditative in a way.”