The Therapeutic Value of Pharma Art

Artists have always striven to push boundaries, whether through their art or through the mediums used to create art. Centuries ago, paint and stone were the go-to mediums for artists of the time. Gradually, other mediums like film, sound, light and even sand and dust were tapped into. Today, artists are using their own bodies to create art. This proves that an imaginative mind can transform any material into art. In this article, we explore art made from a rather unusual material – prescription pills – and strive to explain why these pieces are not only aesthetically significant, but intellectually stimulating as well.

We pop prescription pills into our systems frequently and at times, mindlessly. Even if you’re not unfortunate enough to have to swallow a handful of these colourful life-prolongers every day, you surely turn to them when you have a splitting headache or the flu or even when you want to enjoy an undisturbed snooze on flight. We rarely stop to think what these pills do to our immune systems or how they impact our ability to bear pain and discomfort. Thanks to medical science, we now have a pill for everything. A pill to make you happy, a pill to make you sleepy, a pill to kill pain and a pill to make you feel sane. Blue pills, pink pills, orange pills and red pills, there’s something in every colour, shape and size. A group of artists are trying to depict our dependence on prescription drugs by creating artworks using a host of pills and other items related to medicines. These artworks, although aesthetically pleasing have a discomforting symbolic value because they show us how entangled our lives have become with these potent pellets. Here are some artists who’ve created intriguing artworks that embody these theme.

Artist Jason Mecier seeks to highlight drug addiction problems faced by celebrities through his artwork. He uses tons of colourful pills to create 3D portraits of celebrities. Many celebrities have lost their lives to drug addiction while many are still living with the problem.

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Chemical X, a fitting pseudonym for an artist who creates his masterpieces from ecstasy pills draws attention to the emotional effects of the drug through his artwork.

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Joanna Rajkowski aims to comment on the numbing power of painkillers by creating machine guns from powdered painkillers.

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Bryan Lewis Saunders takes a slightly different approach as he doesn’t use the tangible drug to create art, but creates art when under the influence of various drugs. This shows the effect various drugs have on our cognitive, behavioral and motor skills.

This is a self-portrait made after consuming 1/2 gram cocaine.

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Artist Mark Quinn created a series of sculptures of people who depended heavily on medicines for their survival. The sculptures were not made from stone or clay but from a mixture created by mixing the specific medicines each person relied on with resin!

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Image courtesy: dhc-art