Species Anosognosia, 2019, Oil stick on canvas, 88.5 x 62.25 in, 225 x 158.1 cm, Adam Daley Wilson. Aspect/Ratio Projects Gallery, Chicago.

The conceptual text-based “Species Anosognosia” is part of a new body of work exploring ramifications that arise from the artist’s view that not just individuals can have a mentally illness — rather, entire societies, nations, even our entire species can be mentally ill too.

The piece creates a nexus between the above idea and anosognosia — the clinical psychiatric term describing a mentally ill person who is so sick that they cannot see their illness. It is not refusal to see or denial; it is without fault. It is not a lack of competence or capacity; it is a lack of what a layperson would call insight.

“Species Anosognosia” blends these two ideas to posit that we are together, all of us, mentally ill, as evidenced by our collective acts and collective beliefs, even across religious, cultural, and geographic boundaries; and that we know what we are doing, because we do not have anosognosia; and, as such, it seems that questions of collective and individual culpability and responsibility arise, worldwide.

These premises form the larger, bolder foreground text, while the smaller, lighter background text explores some of the consequences that seem to logically follow — at least to the mind of the artist.

From epiphany to completion, this work was created in just over five minutes using oil sticks that broke many times from the force of the artist’s hand, as he raced to document what, in his mind, inevitably flows from the core ideas of this conceptual text-based work.

When not creating art such as this, Adam Daley Wilson is an advocate against mental illness stigma, having lived with bipolar 1 for over two decades. His experiences regarding the nexus between art, bipolar 1, and societal stigma were recently covered in an in-depth article by a journalist in Maine, where he keeps his studio.

Adam Daley Wilson, conceptual artist, Stanford lawyer, dad of 2, bipolar 1, Portland Maine — insta @adamdaleywilson, aspectratioprojects.com, adamwilsonart.com