South Florida Artist Is Using Her Art to Destigmatize Mental Illness

Posted at 3:40 PM, Nov 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-01 15:40:45-04

Growing up fast and forced to make ends meet at just 16 years old was hard on Mayra Mateus.

"I got into depression because I didn’t know what to study [and] I didn’t know what I wanted in life. We didn’t have the money to pay for university," said Mateus.

When Mateus moved to Miami from Colombia with her mother, she got right to work. She held down three jobs at a bakery, a department store and a pizzeria. Then one day, the pizzeria asked Mateus for a favor that changed her life.

"They were looking for a designer to do the menus and I offered myself. I started to [paint] on the wall and everyone liked it. Another pizzeria hired me to do the same thing so I was like OK I can do this," she added.

While fighting her way out of depression through art, Mateus realize this is what she was meant to do.

"When I started to take art classes I was in depression, I was in a hard time in my life and I think art came [at] the perfect time. Since I got into art, I started having goals and dreams," she said.

Mayra’s first collection “I'm Fine”, is the representation of our sensitive side. A side we may hide from the world.

One of her first pieces is a painting of herself at the pizzeria looking out of a window.

"I painted [myself] eating a pizza and that represents the moment of myself as a cashier at the pizzeria and the window [represents] that I was just one step away from finding my real self," added Mayra.

Mayra hopes by telling her story will help motivate others. On Wednesday, November 10th, she's visiting teens at the Principles Recovery Center in Davie.

"The idea is giving a message through my art and it’s that dreams have more value than money and it’s represented through a piggy bank. If you have goals in your life and dreams, you can make anything you want," Mayra said.