The exhibit "Embracing OCD: Artwork by Mary Swanson" at Fresh A.I.R. Gallery addresses the multitude of factors, issues and emotions that come with obsessive-compulsive disorder. For Swanson, OCD has been a part of her life since she was 15, but she wasn't able to fully express the influence it's had until 2012.

The exhibit "Embracing OCD: Artwork by Mary Swanson" at Fresh A.I.R. Gallery addresses the multitude of factors, issues and emotions that come with obsessive-compulsive disorder. For Swanson, OCD has been a part of her life since she was 15, but she wasn't able to fully express the influence it's had until 2012.

If the pieces on display at the downtown gallery are any indication, Swanson has found catharsis in addressing OCD through art, crafting brave pieces that convey the vital element of humanity in exploring this subject.

Swanson's artist statement reveals this is a "critical view of living with OCD," in that each piece depicts the fears and struggles - but also the triumphs - in dealing with this disorder.

"When living with a mental illness, it's often difficult to see any good or 'triumphant' outcome. By portraying both, [it] displays how someone can look past the ugly or bad to get to the good. It has been a long journey so I wanted to represent the struggles along with my acceptance of the disease," Swanson, an Iowa resident, said in an email.

The series has pieces that address medication, confusion and anxiety, motherhood and even the darkest aspects of OCD - notably the paintings with two female figures that, "represent the struggle between my 'true' identity and with my other self controlled by OCD," according to Swanson - but there's also a palpable sense of hope present.

The series of paintings "Maternal OCD" addresses how the disease can greatly compound the stresses of pregnancy and motherhood. But again, the final painting in the series "Mother and Child" presents peace through love.

"With maternal OCD there is a constant sense of harm and fear while pregnant [that] can carry on past delivery. There's a strong sense of vulnerability as a new mom with or without a mental illness. ['Mother and Child'] was actually created from a photograph that I came across. With the body position, lighting, and nudity, I felt [it] gave off a sense of peace yet vulnerability - exactly how I felt as a new mom. I decided to paint that depiction of myself and daughter to end that series," she said.