MAL DE OJO SYMPOSIUM


Mal de Ojo is a series of triptychs for a fictitious symposium focused on demystifying cultural and religious beliefs about mental health in Latin America. There is a lot of superstition and misconceptions surrounding mental health in Latin America due to cultural and faith-based belief systems. Many Latin Americans attribute mental health issues to the work of evil spirits, witchcraft, God’s will, lack of faith, etc. These misconceptions can create a lot of stress for those who need help, who often do not get the help that they need due to the fear of being judged.

PRINT.
24 x 36.  


TYPOGRAPHIC EXPRESSION:
Mal de Ojo (“The Evil Eye”) refers to the ultimate Latin American superstition, in which a curse is cast upon you when people glare at you with evil intent or jealousy. So, there are people who often cite “mal de ojo” as the source of their problems. For this triptych, I wanted to play with letterform in order to send a message. The word OJO (“eye”) looks like a face for Spanish speakers and we often illustrate it as a face: the two Os are the eyes and the J is the nose. For my triptych, I cut off the eyes in half as a symbol of ignorance; some people are so blindsided by all this cultural and religious constructs within our communities that people often refuse to see mental health issues for what they are, real health concerns, which leads to the stigma and discrimination of people with mental illnesses.


USE OF METAPHOR:
One of the speeches of the symposium is based on religious manipulation or abuse, which refers to “psychological manipulation and harm inflicted on a person by using the teachings of their religion.” For this set of posters, I used an artist mannequin as a metaphor for manipulation, as it is something you manipulate into any position you want.

MANIPULATION OF SYMBOLS:
For this set, I manipulated religious and superstitious symbols in order to convey the message of my symposium. When you look at it, nothing about my triptych would scream “mental health” to you, and that is
For this set, I manipulated religious and superstitious symbols in order to convey the message of my symposium. When you look at it, nothing about my triptych would scream “mental health” to you, and that is the point. A lot of people believe that there is a connection between mental illnesses and sin, and that said illnesses are a punishment from God, a consequence of lacking faith in God or the influences of evil spirits. The snake (a symbol of evil and sin) in my triptych represents mental illnesses (from an emic perspective) while the rosary (symbol of faith and religion) wrapping around it represents “the cure” to those “sins” according to the hyper-religious society.

REFERENCES:
Alvidrez, J. (1999). Ethnic variations in mental health attitudes and service use in low-income African American, Latina, and European American young women. Community Mental Health Journal.

Caplan, S., Escobar, J., Paris, M., Alvidrez, J., Dixon, J., Desai, M., Scahill, L., Whitemore, R. (2012). Cultural Influences on Causal Beliefs About Depression Among Latino Immigrants. Journal of Transcultural Nursing.

Caplan, S. (2019). Intersection of Cultural and Religious Beliefs About Mental Health: Latinos in the Faith-Based Setting. Hispanic Health Care International.

Enroth, R. (1992). Churches That Abuse.

Lambert, S. (1996). Charismatic Captivation, Authoritarian Abuse & Psychological Enslavement in Neo-Pentecostal Churches. Real Truth Publications.

Wright, K. (2001). Religious Abuse: A Pastor Explores the Many Ways Religion Can Hurt as Well as Heal.