We had the good fortune of connecting with Maryanne Chisholm and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Maryanne, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I am an artist, a daughter, wife, and mother from Tucson, Arizona, USA.

I was raised by two amazing parents who were involved in the founding of an organization called “Up With People”. They raised me to believe that all people were goods, and that sometimes they might do bad things, but in the end if you tried to exhibit compassion you would see the good person inside. It was devastating for us all to discover that was not true. My art began to depict the agony of maintaining faith and hope, in a world that had collapsed around me.

My work has evolved from 14 years in prison on a wrongful conviction for crimes another man confessed to. Despite this I was convicted for exhibiting a series of behaviors that appeared to be suspicious or guilty. These behaviors were soon identified, and diagnosed, as symptoms of my mental illness, Bi Polar Type II, Anxiety, Clinical Depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

The prosecutor in my trial stood before the jury at closing and repeatedly asked “Would a reasonable person have done this?”
What he knew, but they did not, was I was not a reasonable person. I was mentally ill, each statement from him to the jury felt like a shot in the gut. Why was I not permitted to tell the truth, and provide a defense?

I was not allowed to present my diagnosis, or examples of these symptoms at trial. I made a decision when convicted to fight for wider understanding of serious mental illness, and in particular the need for the decriminalization of symptoms related to these disorders.

While in custody I managed my OCD and anxiety through art. I painted over 5600 pieces. Those pieces have been re-worked, and animated to create NFT’s. It kept me alive during the most painful time of my life, and my family’s life as well.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I feel as if I previously addressed the bulk of this, but I’d like to refer you to my story at: https://medium.com/@mchisholm_80496/an-artist-emerges-35c0f5b6f64c

Highlights pasted here:

…. I felt like I couldn’t even speak. So my speaking came in the form of paintings. These paintings are the story of my collection of days, of emotions. My survival and forgiveness, not only of the ones who did it to our family, but also for myself. Other people were hurt because I fought back. In the end, I realized it didn’t even matter. There was no truth that anyone cared about other than my family. It simply did not matter.

…..I decided to use my time in prison to help other people. To channel that instead of hate, or rage. I painted to lift spirits, I gave paintings to people who have lost loved ones. I joined up with the ACLU to sue the department of corrections in the state of Arizona for improved medical care for prisoners. We won a settlement which did not include any money for any of us, all the settlement included was improved medical care for the prisoners in the state of Arizona. I felt that I needed this time in my life to count for something. I felt that I could show my children that they could be done even in this horrible place.

…..I waited for relief in prison for 14 years. On December 11, 2018, I was finally released. I survived by creating art to describe how I coped with each day. It is an odd thing to be defined by other people. To listen to other people tell a story that they have decided is truth.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My husband and I love “Commoner and Co”, they have an incredible diverse menu, with hand made pasta, and variety to cover all tastes, along with a decadent happy hour menu and romantic dinner experiences. Tucson has a plethora of amazing restaurants, it is one of the reasons I love this area so much.

We don’t go out much anymore, but we love the Roadhouse Cinema for a quick, affordable escape. Roadhouse is our dine in movie theater with full bar, gourmet air popped popcorn, and foodie friendly meals.

We live nestled in the foothills of the Catalina Mountains, there are many beautiful places to hike and explore including Sabino Canyon. The mountains are stunning.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My story is filled with people who deserve gratitude and recognition. My husband, Mark Chisholm, stood by my side unconditionally. I was never blamed, and never degraded. He saw what had happened, and loved me through it. He suffered horribly, and yet did not complain. We’ve been married over 27 years and I owe him my life, for the many times I was not certain I had the strength to go on.

I lost my Father while in prison, and my mother no longer recognized me. Prior to this they had been my closest friends, champions, supporters with love and compassion. I miss them every single day. My grown kids, Adam Arno, Josh Arno and last but not least, Paige Chisholm, who all only treated me with love. I was horrified with how they were treated by the public when I was first gone, and I can never express how much I love them.

My best friend, Karen Bomprezzi, who pushed me to create art each day, and motivates me to keep working, even when I feel doubt. She is the one person, for all those years, that reminded me of laughter and strength.

Pádraig Costello for teaching me the power of true friendship, and why it’s important to have someone who believes in you. My friend and partner in art, Dana Darr for being my stability and pillar of reason. Tory Bryant for being my inspiration and confidante; My dear, Chelsea Carson for reminding me there were good people where I came from,

Website: https://maryanne-chisholm.format.com/my-gallery

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maryannechisholmartist/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/maryanne-chisholm-79b938176/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaryanneChisho2

Other: linktr.ee/MC_Artist

Image Credits
All art and photography by Maryanne Chisholm

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