Christel Gutelius of Parke County is Wabash Valley Art Guild’s November artist of the month at the Vigo County Public Library at Seventh and Poplar streets.

Gutelius is a retired radiologic technologist of over 30 years, residing in the small town of Mecca. She is a self-taught artist whose main medium is acrylics. 

After suffering with chronic pain and major depression disorder for several years, her present psychologist urged her to find something to do that would be uplifting and enjoyable. Along with finding church services helpful, Gutelius decided to take up painting with acrylics. She looked to God and nature for grounding, beauty and inspiration.

Over the course of her first year of painting, she finished her first series, “Indiana Landscapes” in 2017, which was displayed at the Vigo County Public Library, following her Artist of the Month designation by the WVAG. The positive response from the artists and the public was instrumental in Gutelius continuing with her art and motivated her to seek further improvement in her health.

Gutelius continues to produce and show her art at various venues. She most recently was named a Hoosier Woman Artist 2018 recipient by the Indiana Arts Commission.

Her new series, “Depression and Back: A Retrospective,” is aimed at bringing awareness through art of the complexity of depression. Gutelius hopes the public and healthcare workers will take this opportunity to view art depicting the complicated journey that she and other people with this diagnosis experience. She also hopes that those with depression look at her art with the realization that they share some common feelings and notice how art can be a powerful tool to externalize those feelings.

“Finding a good professional partner to help with your journey, using various resources that speak to you, such as prayer and meditation, art or music therapy, and having support in your everyday life are crucial. Most importantly, don’t give up hope. You can find your way to better health,” Gutelius said.

Works displayed at the library in November are from her series, “Depression and Back: A Retrospective.” It is a look into her art done as a self therapy, along with visits to her healthcare partners, which externalized her internal struggles as she was dealing with a difficult time in her life. “I had all this alone time. Focusing on art helped me to sort out the various feelings I was having when it was difficult to talk or write about it, and that time helped me improve my fine motor skills, since I had developed a tremor. How did I want to portray pain, fatigue, being medicated? And later, how did I want to portray my healing?”

While it’s not possible to display all 19 art pieces at the library, Gutelius is happy to share the ones she can. Rose-Hulman Institute’s Wabash Valley Art Guild exhibit has two of her art pieces from this series, titled “Meditation” and “The Golden Path.”

“Anyone can have a mental health crisis, whether you’re young or old, wealthy or poor, working or retired, college grad or not, we are all susceptible. If you’ve had a trauma that rocks your world, or unresolved past trauma, or a life changing event, it can be overwhelming. My biggest hope is that people see my art and realize that depression is a complex mix of symptoms and emotions, it’s not just being sad. But that didn’t make me any less of a person, or someone to be afraid of. I was suffering, I found good professional help, had encouragement from my friends and family to pursue my art, and I am in a good place now.”  

Art has grown to be Gutelius’ favorite past time. Currently you can find her art in the Covered Bridge Art Gallery at Rockville, Indiana, the Link Art Gallery’s fall juried show in Paris, Illinois, and the WVAG exhibit in Rose-Hulman Institute’s Moench Hall.

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