the johnny depp and amber heard defamation case
paintings to process relatable traumas.
Watching the defamation lawsuit between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard over this past week has been a difficult display of enmeshment, emotional abuse, and domestic violence. It's been triggering for many survivors to watch Depp have to relive very real traumas in the public eye, after a lifetime of trying to keep his off-screen life and family private. The blatant abuse tactics Heard uses against Depp on the recordings played during the trial are an all too familiar reminder of systemic abuse for so many of us. It can be very triggering to recognize abuse that so closely matches your own, but watching Depp push through to stand up for survivors everywhere has been empowering for me.
In an effort to cope with these triggers and focus on the truth and bravery that Depp displays under such extreme scrutiny and gaslighting interrogations from Heard's lawyer, I painted both Johnny Depp and Amber Heard how I see them through the lens of my synesthesia.
Synesthesia is the lens of my own understanding of the world around me, which is to say, this is my understanding of the truth.
Painting Depp in his role in "Cry Baby", my favorite of Depp's roles, helped me focus on easing myself through the spaces of the worst of my abuse, which happened when the movie was current, helped me bridge a gap between the flashbacks of my own abuse and the current space where Depp, another survivor doing brave things and speaking out and in which I am safe. Here, where Depp is acting in defiance of his abuse. Here, where I am safe to express my own survival story. Here, in this moment, we are brave together. When survivors speak out, we are all one step closer to safety.
Painting Heard was cathartic. I see swarming blacks and reds like lies instead of skin. I see the monsters usually tagged as cluster B disorders. I see the abuse. The arrogance. The surety that she's safe because she's a woman and he's a man. Am I speculating? Of course, I am, but I also paint what I see, and this was my interpretation of what I painted. I see her humanity like a mask she sheds like snakeskin. I see the monster within, both stony and burning with endless, hungry fire. I see abuse with eyes.
About the author
Pea is an artist focused on building an art therapy platform through transformative art and positive erotica to help victims of sexual violence reclaim their power. She lives on a small island and hides from loud noises.