An Artist’s Perspective: “Mental,” by Mikel Elam

The mental states we reside within are a dialogue in our heads about the external world. These stories we tell ourselves are both fiction and nonfiction. However, we are certain of one fact. The world around us is a constantly challenging vortex that we must deal with daily. So, I propose the idea of detachment all while interacting within it. From work to home to families, friends, survival, etc.

I meditate. I also choose prayer. There are prayers of gratitude. Prayers of enlightenment. Prayers of hope. I turn off my phone. I render my space silent. I slowly let my mind go blank. For twenty minutes, I can be anywhere in the universe.

When I return, my stress levels are down. I am not as anxious. I have the realization that I am as balanced as I allow myself to be. This process gives me some peace.



Mikel Elam


I am in search of my higher consciousness, all within the constraints of this part melanin-based vessel. Some say we arrive out of the womb already aware of our destiny. I have always gravitated toward future ideas: new approaches and ways of looking at things. I’ve been searching for humanity within the sea of infinite compassion. Simply trying to get closer to the divine. I meditate twice a day. I try to nourish my body and my soul with proper sustenance. My art practice is a continuation of these values. Often leading me into observations about this life and its consequences.

I love all of the art forms. I am most adept with pigments and painting devices. I listen to music, watch films, read constantly. Although when starting a painting, I work in silence. It gives me better clarity in developing a dialogue and a narrative within the art itself. Once the work is able to stand up; I can then begin to introduce external sounds to continue my practice.

I would say the single most reoccurring theme in my work is about identity. Especially in these times filled with such animosity towards the skin that many of my brothers and sisters inhabit. It is within this framework my paintings are born. The art, for me, is both an evaluation and validation of our existence. We exist. We are beautiful. We are powerful and humane. We are love.

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