Every now and then, we like shining the spotlight on the incredibly talented artists we come across like this painter-goldsmith duo who turns your kids’ drawings into unforgettable pieces of jewelry or Al Margen, whose drawings highlight the deepest and darkest aspects of society. Today, we’re turning that spotlight towards Californian Kate Fenner or, on social media, AwkwardApostrophe. Kate is a 19-year-old artist with schizophrenia.
What Is Schizophrenia?
Affecting around one percent of people in America, schizophrenia is a chronic and incurable brain disorder. For women who do get it, the first signs start to show in early adulthood. So, for Kate, schizophrenia came earlier than usual. It occurs in episodes and when active, makes it unbelievably challenging to distinguish between what is real and what is not.
In one drawing, Kate defines hallucination as “an experience involving the apparent perception of something not present.”
Schizophrenia comes with many symptoms, which can include: 
- Hallucinations (e.g., hearing voices, paranoid delusions, exaggerated or distorted perceptions, behaviors, and beliefs)
- Reduced ability to find pleasure, speak, express emotions, or initiate plans
- Confusion, illogical thinking, abnormal movements, and disordered thinking and speech
- Impaired cognition (e.g., problems concentrating, staying focused, and remembering things)
However, Kate was not always diagnosed with schizophrenia. For years, she had received many difference diagnoses but it wasn’t until she turned 17 that doctors finally diagnosed her with the chronic brain disorder.
“I have always been an ‘artist’, I just didn’t realize what that meant until my mental illness appeared,” said Kate in a piece for Bored Panda.  “I despise the term ‘mentally ill’; it implies that who I am as a person is fundamentally corrupted and broken.”
To both cope with her mental health issues and combat the stigma surrounding mental illness, she draws a lot of her hallucinations. Kate will often hear voices, random noises and other sound effects, which is difficult to transfer onto paper. But what she does see a lot of is bugs, faces, and disembodied eyes.
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It is never easy to share such struggles with friends and family because people are so quick to label, define, and judge others by it. This is probably why Kate decided to share how she copes with her schizophrenia not only to strangers, but to the internet.
“Unfortunately, as soon as I tell people what I struggle with, I feel like that’s all they see me as. They see the stigma perpetuated by the media, and the inaccurate stereotypes portrayed in Hollywood. That is precisely why I am so open about what I live with.”
Although much of her art is influenced by hallucinations, she is an artist first and does create beautiful pieces which you can find on her Instagram page. But, to see some of Kate’s hallucinations manifested in art below, keep scrolling down…
 What Is Schizophrenia? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/schizophrenia/what-is-schizophrenia
 Fenner, K. (n.d.). I Was Diagnosed with Schizophrenia at The Age Of 17, So I Started Drawing My Hallucinations to Cope with It. Retrieved from https://www.boredpanda.com/18-year-old-schizophrenic-artist-drawing-hallucinations/
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