This last year has highlighted many underlying issues in our society, but one that certainly stands out is the heightened awareness of mental health and our human need to connect to others in an isolated, disconnected world. At first glance, Willea Zwey’s Celebration Day is a transcendent digital painting that looks like a structural study with characters throughout. Look more closely though, and you’ll discover a deeper meaning that represents thoughts and feelings that many of us have experienced at some point.
The world of Celebration Day was created from the imagination of Willea Zwey, an artist and musician based out of Chicago, IL. Craving more creative freedom and ownership in her work a few years ago, she traded in her career in architecture for a career as an artist. The results are otherworldly illustrations with a high level of detail and an unconventional perspective. One of Willea’s first pieces, Celebration Day is a brilliant example of storytelling and composition-- a combination that can be difficult to achieve when an artist is still early in their career. It’s no surprise that Willea’s work has caught on quickly: she’s found an audience in the Cryptoart/NFT world where she has sold pieces to collectors around the world.
"So many mediums of art can all thrive in this space - everyone has their own kind of presentation, no matter what kind of art they do, where they’re from, or how long they’ve been creating - it’s a very welcoming and inclusive community which is very cool.”
Finding her niche has brought Willea one step closer to finding her place in the art world. It has been her way of connecting. As many of us spent time alone this past year, waiting for our chance to explore the world again – Willea created her own worlds drawing from her architecture background. It was during this time that she explored a story of human connection, mental health, and self-reflection in Celebration Day. What originally began as a piece for herself turned into something she wanted to share with a larger audience.
Our attention is drawn to the main subject – the man in yellow – laying on the ground staring absently into the sky. We see his thoughts projected into the composition above him, feeling what he feels and seeing what he imagines. Here is a man, trapped under the weight from the pressures of society, while everyone else seems to carry about their business. While the world around him seems to celebrate everything and nothing at the same time, he rests, exhausted from everyday life.
"We care so much about what other people think...we never fully understand others and their perspective, what others are going through."
Today’s society celebrates the hustle mindset. That expectation can often lead to pushing through mental exhaustion at the cost of one’s own happiness. This “booked and busy” mentality can distract us, causing us to miss those around us who need us the most. Willea highlights this, illustrating the one person attempting to make a connection by handing the man in yellow an umbrella. He’s the only one who noticed that someone needed help and made the effort to reach out.
Willea wants Celebration Day to create discussion. To remind us all of what’s really important and worth pursuing: human connection, caring for one's own mental health, and being someone who reaches out in an isolated, disconnected world.
View Willea's portfolio and shop her NFTs and prints at willeazwey.com.