Five Years of the Arts and Humanities Speaker Series
Springfield College celebrated the fifth annual Arts and Humanities Speaker Series, made possible through the generosity of Carlton ’63 and Lucille Sedgeley, by welcoming mental health awareness advocates Jessie Close and her son, Calen Pick, on Oct. 11, in the Field House.
Jessie and Calen inspired their sister and aunt, actress Glenn Close, to co-found Bring Change to Mind, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness, in 2010. Jessie Close’s own struggle with bipolar disorder provided the backbone to a courageous story and an enlightened perspective on the state of mental health in the United States.
Jessie Close is an internationally recognized author (Resilience: Two Sisters and a Story of Mental Illness, published in 2016) and speaker who shares her own journey toward the larger goal of greater understanding of the complexities and challenges of living with a diagnosed mental illness. She shared her story with the campus and greater Springfield community.
“Certainly it’s an honor to be in front of all of you on this great campus,” said Close. “To see so many students and community members come out for this talk, it means a lot and we are very pleased to come out and share our stories.”
Calen Pick was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder as a young man. He has been active for many years in outreach programs for youth living with mental illness, resources that weren’t always available to him at a young age.
A Montana-based artist, Pick shared his artwork—a craft he has been developing for more than 14 years—as part of his presentation. He views his artwork as an expression of the creative gifts commonly found among people living with mental illness and an important therapeutic tool for his own pursuit of a healthy and productive life.
When introducing Pick, Close said, “I introduce to you Calen, the bravest person I know. I am so proud of him.”
Pick discussed what it was like to drop into psychosis, calling it “a period of rapid descent.”
“The climb back out is much more difficult,” he said, describing how he utilized his art as a way to climb out of it. “The bottom line is, without our minds, we are nothing, but, with our minds, we can be anything.”
Previous distinguished speakers in this series
Previous distinguished speakers in this series include paleoanthropologist, political advisor, and environmentalist Richard Leakey in 2014; author, poet, and screenwriter Sherman Alexie in 2015; Grammy Award-winning singer, activist, and humanitarian Angelique Kidjo in 2016; and, best-selling author, philanthropist, columnist, and sports reporter Mitch Albom in 2017.