Crazy Creative: Exploring Connections Between Creativity and Mental Illness

Mary Button & David Finnegan-Hosey

Fri 1 PM | Studio

There has long been a popular association between mental illness and creativity. The infamous emotional intensity, even instability, of famous creatives – from Vincent Van Gogh to Sylvia Plath to Kurt Cobain – and the perception that creativity involves suffering has strengthened this link in the popular imagination. But is this link real? Is suffering a necessary prerequisite for creativity? Are people with mental health struggles inherently more creative? Artist and organizer Mary Button and chaplain and author David Finnegan-Hosey, both of whom get a real kick out of making stuff and both of whom are diagnosed with bipolar disorder, will facilitate this discussion on mental illness and creativity.

David Finnegan-Hosey

David Finnegan-Hosey is a chaplain and campus minister. He currently serves as chaplain-in-residence at Georgetown University, having previously worked with campus ministries at American University and the University of Hawaii. He holds an M.Div from Wesley Theological Seminary and a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education from the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. He is certified by Mental Health First Aid USA to provide initial help to people experiencing depression, anxiety, psychosis, and substance use disorders. In 2011, David was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after a series of psychiatric hospitalizations. He now speaks and writes about the intersections among mental illness, mental health, and faith. You can learn about his book, Christ on the Psych Ward, at, and read more of his writing on his blog, Foolish Hosey. David lives in Washington, DC with his wife Leigh and their dog Penny Lane.

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50 Crazy Creative

Mary Button

Mary Button was born and raised in the swampy wilds of East Texas, received a BFA in Photography and Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, and went on to earn a Master of Theological Studies with a concentration in American religious history and Christian ethics from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

Her artwork has been exhibited across the US and UK, with exhibitions at the Museum of Biblical Art in NYC, the Church Center for the United Nations, Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, and Wesley House at Cambridge University, to name a few. She has written curricula for Women of the ELCA on a number of social justice issues and is a frequent contributor to Believe Out Loud. You can find her at

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Session #50