Andrew Solomon Review:
“Art is the noblest way to make a seeming tragedy into the occasion of triumph. Susan Weinreich’s drawings and paintings have that redemptive quality: they reach unabashedly into darkness and thrust into shattering clarity, telling the story of their sometimes tortured inspiration from a hard-earned place of safety. Because Weinreich’s distinctive artistic style reaches toward affirmation, her work often alludes to joy, but it is never euphemistic. These brave pictures, suffused with intimacy, elaborate her unstinting gaze at both the smoothness of the world’s surfaces and the jagged turmoil of the human mind.
Weinreich has used her work not to escape her schizophrenia, but to master it. Many people in her situation find recollecting their delusions impossibly painful, and blot out such memories. Weinreich has chosen to keep looking at her time of anguish, and so she has a coherent life narrative that includes both isolation and connectedness, madness and sanity. Of necessity, her work has a dark side. But art is the product of creativity, which is a lesson in vitality. Her urge is no longer to destroy, but rather, to construct.
Susan Weinreich is remarkable for the art she has made in sickness and in health, for the profound emergence from schizophrenia she has achieved, and for the intense self-awareness that has marked her recovery. She has said that the schizophrenia gave her momentum, that the fact of so many years lost to psychosis compels her forward. The immediacy and evident passion of her work reflect the lost time when she had no real voice; the imagination evident in the work owes much to the time when the imagined world and the real one had such porous boundaries.
Her inspiring generosity has led her to speak openly about her adventures in psychosis. In facing down stigma without shame, she diminishes it; her art thereby helps everyone who suffers from any related condition. The very existence of a coherent self is a mark of victory over the chaos of psychosis, and Weinreich’s is testimony that willpower and medication and psychotherapy can be braided together with self-expression to create a life and a life’s work of relentless authenticity. Schizophrenia is solipsistic, but Weinreich is deeply engaged with the inner lives of others. That generosity imbues every line she draws and every stroke she paints. “
Andrew Solomon, PhD, is a writer and lecturer on politics, culture and psychology. His book, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, won the National Book Critics Circle award for nonfiction and eleven other national awards; it was a New York Times bestseller. Solomon’s previous book, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression (Scribner, 2001), won the 2001 National Book Award for Nonfiction, was a finalist for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize. He is a lecturer in Psychiatry at Weill-Cornell Medical College. Solomon is an activist and philanthropist in LGBT rights, mental health, education and the arts. He lives with his husband and son in New York and London.
From the afterword in A Brush of Madness by Susan Weinreich