I started making experimental videos in Seattle in the mid 90’s. My work at that time was produced through the community media center and focused on creating ambient visuals for queer performance events I produced. In 1998, I moved from Seattle to Olympia, Washington to study electronic media production and performance studies. I worked for media services and the television studio at Evergreen and taught people video and sound editing. My senior thesis project was a multi-channel sound, video and sculptural installation called Four Faced Colossus. It was semi-autobiographical and explored themes of oppression and resistance.
In 2002, I entered the Arts Administration graduate program at the University of Oregon focusing on representation and accessibility issues in the arts–particularly public art and international theatres of resistance. My thesis work explored the nature of empowerment by analyzing the work of Foucault, feminist interpretations of his work and texts from international theatres of resistance to develop a model for approaching empowerment in arts programs.
In 2015, I completed a degree in psychology focusing on adolescent and young adult development, disability studies and positive youth development. I started working at PSU’s Regional Research Institute for Human Services as an intern in 2013 and received a direct appointment as a senior research assistant in January 2016. In this role, I contribute to the process of developing, implementing and testing interventions in child/youth/young adult mental health with a focus on positive youth development. I come to the work as a person with lived experience of psychosis and the mental health system and use my skills as a video producer and writer to create materials that tell stories, confront stigmas and inform the public and care providers.
One of my favorite projects is the Early Assessment and Support Alliance (EASA) Center for Excellence. EASA began in Oregon and is now being implemented across the U.S. The goal of the program is to identify individuals with the first signs of psychosis as soon as possible in order to minimize the negative impact on their lives through person-centered, multi-disciplinary treatment and support. In September 2015, I led a study on the educational and vocational experiences of young adults in the EASA program and recent graduates. In early 2016, I led a film project with EASA’s Young Adult Leadership Council entitled In Our Own Words, Sounds and Visions. And we recently completed a short animation project called What Is/Isn’t Psychosis? with University of Maryland Medical School as part of SAMHSA’s tecnical assistance network. I am currently working on a set of tools for self-advocacy with members of the young adult leadership council and Pat Deegan who is an internationally recognized innovator in the peer movement.
I also design knitwear and beaded jewelry. I hand dye, card and spin my own yarn and knit and crochet garments. I am super passionate about fashion, design and hand crafting beautiful pieces of wearable art work. I sold my jewelry in galleries and did a lot of custom work in Seattle in the 90’s and hope to return to that type of work when I retire from my social justice work. Please follow me on Instagram @marybwoolencraft to see all of the stuff I make in my free time!