Film, Music And Mental Health: Photographer Diana Michelle reveals project

Film, Music And Mental Health: Photographer Diana Michelle reveals project
BECCA MARTIN-BROWN
bmartin@nwadg.com

Artist and photographer Diana Michelle knew about mental illness; she had observed it in her own family. However, it was not any part of the reason she started studying yoga with Paul Summerlin over five years ago.

The subject of Diana Michelle’s new film, Paul Summerlin has released two solo vocal albums, two ambient albums, and his compositions have appeared in many online art/video projects. He has practiced yoga and meditation for 21 years and began teaching others in 2009.
(Courtesy Image/Diana Michelle)

“At some point early on in our friendship, Paul simply stated one day that he had been diagnosed on the schizophrenia spectrum,” she remembers. “I was immediately interested in learning more. At first Paul was reluctant to speak out, but with contemplation and further encouragement, a decision was made that we would produce a story together.

“His teachings and music coupled with my still and moving photography make for a beautiful collaboration,” Diana Michelle says.

Fans of her work and of Summerlin’s yoga practice can begin to see the results of their efforts Oct. 16. An event at Mount Sequoyah in Fayetteville will showcase Diana Michelle’s still photography, Summerlin’s music — he’s worked with artists like Seal and on “The David Letterman Show” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” — and “Breathing in Eden,” a 10-minute preview of their “It’s No Secret” film project.

“The ‘It’s No Secret’ project has as its foundation the first feature documentary, focusing on life background and foundational teachings, and the second feature, a direct representation of that teaching, and Paul’s unique and fearless style of delivering a message,” Diana Michelle explains. “These feature films are fairly close to wrapping up production and set to release over the next few months. Editing, post and marketing have already begun.

“Sprung from this main project are several avenues of experimentation, involving stunning nature footage, along with Paul’s asana practice and musical compositions,” she adds. ” Of the many shorter ‘film-art’ pieces taking shape, ‘Breathing In Eden’ is the first, a breathtaking 10-minute collage of these elements.”

Diana Michelle says the films pair her unique style of photography with Summerlin’s “testimony,” which “addresses his viewpoints on his condition and place in the world, leading to a deeper discussion about pain and karma, and culminating in an impassioned discourse on the wisdom he has gleaned from his struggles, which forms the basis of his spiritual practice and teaching.”

“The film is not an easy ride,” she adds. “There is tension throughout, but the payoff is huge, both visually and emotionally.”

It is Diana Michelle’s hope that the film project can help families and communities dealing with mental illness, “who may be looking for alternatives to healing, if they have become frustrated with the post-modern treatment system in the conventional mental health field.”

“It is Paul’s contention that the world is in the chaotic state it is because each and every human being, on some level, is denying a vast part of their ‘true nature,’ and therefore not becoming fully actualized spiritually,” she says. “And that all the hidden negativity inside is projected out into the world.

The subject of Diana Michelle’s new film, Paul Summerlin has released two solo vocal albums, two ambient albums, and his compositions have appeared in many online art/video projects. (Courtesy Image/Diana Michelle)

“As one of Paul’s long time yoga students, what I have learned from Paul is that we have so much more going on than just our physical bodies,” she adds. “We are spiritual beings having a physical experience here on earth. This part is simply a part of the bigger lesson as our soul transcends lifetimes, other dimensions and beyond.

“Other people should learn from Paul because simply put, this man is enlightened,” Diana Michelle concludes. “With an open mind and an open heart, there is so much more to learn about our own spirituality. This man has so much to give. I aim to help move this along because it must be shared. It is a gift.”

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FAQ

‘It’s No Secret’

Fundraiser

WHEN — 5-8 p.m. Oct. 16

WHERE — Sequoyah Hall at Mount Sequoyah, 150 N. Skyline Drive in Fayetteville

COST — Free; donations are welcome

INFO — Email diana@dianamichellephotos.com

BONUS — Private appointments can be made to view the work until Nov. 4. The next fundraiser will be 6-9 p.m. Nov. 13 at Lane Foster Fine Art Gallery in Springdale, where the work will be exhibited Nov. 8-Jan. 28.

Categories: Cover Story