You Can Be Anything… Except Yourself


You Can Be Anything… Except Yourself

11 x 17


Conversion therapy is an on-going issue that I feel, as Canadians; we are not talking about enough. We hear about protests going on in the USA, but what most of us don’t realize is that, conversion therapy is a Canadian issue as well. It is only illegal in 2 provinces: Ontario and Manitoba, but this only happened last year in 2015. This means that this abuse, hidden under the name of a therapy, is legal in most of Canada to this day.

If you’re not quite sure what conversion therapy is, a basic definition would be “a sham treatment which aims to ‘cure’ subjects of their sexual orientation of gender identity.” ( People who have gone through and/or are going through conversion therapy are 8x more likely to have attempted suicide, 6x more likely to have severe depression, more than 3x as likely to resort to illegal drugs, and are more than 3x as likely to be at high risk for HIV and STD’s. (

I have 2 versions of the same piece. This is because I am trying to convey two different messages. Version one is where the eyes and the mouth are covered. This is to represent that, because people aren’t informed or they aren’t seeing what is going on, or the after affects (such as mental illness) are ‘invisible’, and so they won’t speak up.

The second version, where the eyes are uncovered, but the mouth still is, is to represent the by-standers, the people who know about this abusive ‘therapy’ who don’t say anything about it. The quote, “You can be anything except yourself” is a play on the common phrase “you can be anything” that we normally will tell children and youth so that they can express themselves and be who they truly are. In conversion therapy though, they are telling you that you can be anything EXCEPT yourself. You’re not allowed to show who are you on the inside, or express yourself.

The message I want people to take away from this is to become more educated. Educate others on this subject too. The more people who are educated, hopefully, the more people who will stand up and speak out to save and support the victims of conversion therapy, and eventually end it completely.

This issue is important to me because it heavily affects a large community in my life, the LGBTQ+ community. People who are like me are being abused and broken down for expressing themselves like I do. People, who haven’t done anything wrong, being themselves in a way that doesn’t hurt anyone and makes themselves happy, are getting punished for that. I don’t want to be a bystander; I don’t want this issue to be hidden in the dark.

This piece was inspired by Barbara Kruger, an American conceptual artist. Her work consists of black and white photographs with red-on-white captions. Her work speaks strong messages that usually address cultural issues dealing with power, identity, and sexuality. She is an inspiring figure because she works toward getting forward an important message about society, something that we should do to change, or bring light on things that we, as a society, are doing wrong.

The elements of design I used are (implied) line and colour. In each image, “you can be” leads the viewer’s eye from the left to the right, and in the first version, it leads the views eye towards the word “anything”. In both versions, the “y” in “anything” directs the views eye towards the word “except”, and as we usually read from top to bottom, “yourself” is the next word the eye goes towards.

The use of colour in this piece is red. Red is a warm colour, making it bold, especially on top of the black and white photograph.

The principles of design I used are balance, emphasis and movement. The balance in this piece is asymmetrical, but because I have words equally on both sides of the image, it’s balanced. I emphasized the words by making them larger, such as “anything” and “yourself”. Lastly, the movement is created by the implied line, which I explained previously.

The principle of media art I used is (conceptual) point of view. By expressing my concern about conversion therapy, I’m creating a conceptual point of view.

The strengths in this piece are my movement and my message.

The weaknesses in this piece are my in ability to choose just one version, and my inability to incorporate both messages through one image. That was also the challenge I faced while creating this piece.


*This images includes SOME free-use/copyright-free/Free Stock-photos/Photo’s used with the artists permission. Any others are my own.


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