A woman of many talents, Erin Matlock is an artist, author, public speaker and mental health advocate. Her interests may seem divergent at first glance, but there is a golden thread that powerfully stitches together each in a very meaningful way: her commitment to building compassionate connection and spreading love.

Much of Erin’s work revolves around frank discussions of her own struggles with mental health. She battled severe depression and suicidal ideation throughout her teens and 20s. As she began to make inroads toward recovery, she dedicated herself to educating and advocating for others with similar battles.

Erin discovered through her advocacy work that mental health struggles are far more common than we might realize. It’s estimated one in four adults in the US will face a mental health issue in their lives.

Despite its prevalence, the stigma and shame surrounding mental health leads many who are suffering to feel alone. Erin works to break down those barriers and lift up others. She wants her work, whether art, literature, or the spoken word, to let people know they are not broken, wrong or alone, and that a brighter future is possible.

Somehow Erin also found the time to create the Brain Summit, a free conference for those looking to improve emotional regulation, boost focus, and enhance brain health. She is a regular public speaker on the topic of mental health. She has written a book of poems about her own life journey, and she creates artwork to uplift and inspire.

Erin shares more about what draws her to fine art and what messages she hopes to convey through her work.

Why have you chosen to use your art to communicate a message?
I have an extensive history of clinical depression and multiple hospitalizations for suicide. Now, I speak on the topic of mental health.

What I noticed about myself, as someone who is introverted, was that I needed an outlet. I needed an escape. Writing has been one of those ways, but ever since I was young, I envisioned myself painting these big works. I was ok if no one else liked them because it was what I needed to see. I need to see these words when life is challenging and, on the flip side, when the day is joyous, they’ve amplified that.

It’s easier for me to create than to speak my feelings.

What do you hope your messages and your art evoke in people or what action do you hope it inspires?
Right now we’re living in a world where people are seeking respite from the chaos. They need peace and space to breathe and hope. And art is a mirror that can nurture us.

I choose to create large works to help viewers escape into the colors, textures and words. My hope is people can do that and find themselves in that experience.

I believe, to build compassion in society, we must find ways to soothe the human spirit and find ways to inspire kind conversations in which people can express themselves safely. I believe art is a main pathway to do this. I hope we can place a focus on art as a viable choice for systemic healing.