While drugs, mental illness, and self-medication aren’t the most pleasant subjects to discuss or deal with, Minneapolis’ Instinct Art Gallery’s latest exhibition brings these topics to light using a perfect mix of somber humor and deadpan seriousness. The artists lay everything out on the table with their work, from deep introspective comments on their struggles with depression and anxiety to sardonic comments on failed relationships.
While displays fill the gallery, the hectic work of artist Sammy thrashLife steals the show. When walking into the gallery, the first image you see straight ahead on the back wall is a jumbled mess of color captioned with a commanding “HAVE SEX WITH AND/OR BUY ART FROM ME.” After a light giggle from this order, you make your way to the piece and start reading the lighthearted fine print that lets you know that the aforementioned options are Sammy’s only worth in this life. The dark, humorous piece, like many others he has on display, takes you on an introspective journey that leads you through Sammy’s struggles with drugs, women, and depression—all of course presented with a special kind of dark humor that elicits simultaneous sadness and happiness. The piece features vibrant colors and characters that seem lifted from some darker, more anxious version of ‘Adventure Time.’ All of Sammy’s pieces in the show have this same laughable-but-sad style that creates a special kind of closeness between him and viewers. I wouldn’t be surprised if I now know more about his life than some of his friends do.
The piece features vibrant colors and characters that seem lifted from some darker, more anxious version of ‘Adventure Time.’
Other notable pieces include syringes filled with money (titled “Not Getting Better”) to old logs full of rusty nails. Every piece in the show enters into the discussion on drugs, mental illness, or self-medicating said illnesses with said drugs. “The Meds I’m On” leaves viewers with a somber happiness. It provides a certain comfort in teaching you that this shit happens, but you will find a way to either deal with it or to defeat it. I would give this show 9/10 dissolvable gelatin capsules and would strongly recommend going. It runs through May 9.