Edina Artist Turns Mental Struggles into Asset

Polly Norman's photography acts as catharsis.

Most of us have known someone who has dealt with mental illness at some point; we might even be one of those people. One Edina woman who found herself in this space has taken her experience and created inspiring art. Polly Norman’s book Dances Through Glass is filled with photos that show her ability to see beauty in the world around her.
“For every human experience that is deemed negative, something positive comes out of it,” says Norman. “Out of my illness, I have become an advocate and educator, both by sharing facts about mental illness in the book and with those around me and in the community.”
Norman’s artistic journey began by taking photos of light hitting windows in an indoor pool. These “polly”graphs, as her friends refer to them, were then enhanced with cut paper, string, feathers and other objects. Published together, these photo-based pieces of art provide an outlet for Norman and encouragement for others.
“It has been extremely therapeutic for me,” she says. “When I share my personal experience with mental illness and help others, I can feel the symptoms of my own illness lessen. My first (instinct) was not to share my personal struggles. I have since seen the tremendous effect of ‘coming out of the closet.’ I reduce the stigma of mental illness by sharing mine.”