José Galvan is a fascinating character. A former drug addict who has experienced mental illness first hand, he now runs one of Mexico’s only facilities for the mentally ill. In very basic conditions, it houses patients who have been forgotten and abandoned by society and, very often, their own families.
Without any governmental help, Galvan provides a place of safety for the mentally ill and marginalized. Importantly, he accepts them just as they are and does what he can, which is admittedly rather limited, t0 improve their quality of life.
In exploring and reflecting on his own experience, Galvan has turned to art to express his innermost thoughts and struggles. Stark and sometimes shocking, his compositions draw attention to the struggles the mentally ill lead in a developing country, as well as projecting his own psychological conflicts via the medium of visual art.
Galvan’s Christian faith has, and continues to be, a vitally important factor in driving him to reach out to the marginalized. By taking Jesus as his exemplar, Galvan identifies with those that society is too busy avoiding, thus providing a very practical ‘role model’ for us all to follow. The question is though – which marginalized group are we being called to reach out to and embrace?
You can watch a short film on José Galvan and his work and motivations here (courtesy of youtube):