Aldo van den Broek went on a residency to King's County Hospital in New York, through organization Beautiful Distress. Work inspired on this trip is now on show at our gallery in the exhibition FERNWEH.


beautiful distress was founded in 2014 on the concept that there is a great deal of mental suffering, that not enough people are aware of this and that not enough is done to stop it. The Foundation uses art in an attempt to open up the world of psychiatry and battle the stigma attached to it. Why art? Beautiful Distress believes that art is pre-eminently capable of articulating and depicting the human condition. We work with artists of caliber whose works show affinity with our cause. 

The fear of going crazy or losing oneself completely is one of the greatest fears we know. One in four people will face mental difficulties in their lifetime, with all the consequences it entails for themselves and their environment. Unfortunately, this does not lead to the understanding and acceptance and solidarity we have come to know with regard to diseases such as cancer or aids. Psychiatric patients are often marginalized or ostracized from society. Whenever the world of psychiatry is featured in the news, it is usually with a negative connotation. In urban areas especially there has been a rapid rise in the number of people with mental problems. In addition, financial cuts in mental health care reduce the chances of returning back to society and leading a dignified existence.

By initiating and developing ideas and projects together with artists, and subsequently sharing them with the public, Beautiful Distress uses art to tell the stories of psychiatry to a large audience that does not come in contact with mental illness or psychiatry on a daily basis. Even though mental illness often evokes negative emotions it is also a source of creativity. By bringing those two worlds together, Beautiful Distress wishes to validate the world and experiences of the mentally ill.


- The way you treat vulnerable people mirrors your degree of civilization

- Mental illness deserves good interpreters

- The better the art, the greater the impact

- Good art has healing powers

Beautiful Distress distinguishes itself from existing mental health support organizations because it does not focus on providing information on illnesses, advice or treatment. Our goal is public awareness: garner attention with and through art that leads to a more positive image and acceptance.



In 2014 Beautiful Distress and Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, New York set up and started an artist-in-residency program at the mental health department of the hospital. .2014-2016 is a pilot period in which four Dutch artists will (have) spent a period of three months each in the hospital and, inspired by the patients, the staff and the environment there, will have produced art that reflects their experiences. After a thorough evaluation of the pilot period, a durable artist-in-residency will be established.



2016 started well for Beautiful Distress. A grant was awarded to Beautiful Distress by the Art of Impact Fund to create a major interactive art exhibition and congress. The Art of Impact fund (, an initiative from the Dutch Secretary of State for Culture, Education and Science Jet Bussemaker, stimulates one-off new art projects with a clear impact on a social issue or problem. The end result will be shown autumn 2017 in Amsterdam. It is our intention to subsequently organize an exhibition in New York in 2018. 

Beautiful Distress and The Fifth Season organize an exhibition of work by artists who spent a period as artist in residence in psychiatric hospital Kings County Hospital, Brooklyn, New York and/or Psychiatric Hospital Altrecht, Den Dolder, The Netherlands.  The artists show their impressions of mental illness and create awareness with the public on the limitations brought about by mental illness.

Simultaneously with the exhibition debates and discussions will be organized with representatives of all interest groups: patients and their families, policy makers in health care and psychiatry, government, artists and the public. The views and observations of the artists, resulting from their intense experiences with patients and staff, will be bundled in an ”Artists Manifesto”, which will be offered to all participants and form the starting point for the discussions.

The aim of the discussions is to come up with and formulate new ideas and recommendations to the policymakers in government and mental health care and the general public to fight prejudices and create more understanding and compassion for those suffering from mental disorders, and their immediate environment.



- Patients and their families find the courage to talk about their situation sooner. This helps soften their suffering and creates opportunities for improvement


- The connection between art and psychiatry creates a new perspective on people with a psychiatric disorder and leads to more public understanding

- Children's workshop: the idea of ​​mental illness is discussed in workshops with children. Prejudices are discussed and contested


- Through the observations of the artists new and different ideas and solutions can be formulated and offered to policy makers in healthcare and government


Beautiful Distress Foundation collaborates with The Fifth Season. This foundation has been organizing artist-in-residency projects for over fifteen years in psychiatric hospital Altrecht, den Dolder, the Netherlands. Together with The Fifth Season Beautiful Distress organized as its first project an international artists exchange in Den Dolder. For her planned exhibition project Beautiful Distress will collaborate with artists they invited to the artist-in-residency program at Kings County Hospital. In addition, Beautiful Distress and The Fifth Season, also have a choice of the work of the artists who in the last fifteen years spent a residency period in Altrecht, Den Dolder.

Comments from the Art of Impact committee

“…One of the major social issues of today is how to deal with those who are unable to cope with the demands of modern society. Those suffering from severe mental illnesses for example; Beautiful Distress foundation tries to break the stigma attached to these people. They proved that in the past fifteen years’ active artist-in-residency program in psychiatric hospital Altrecht in Den Dolder and they prove it again with the last two years’ active artist-in-residency program in the mental health department at Kings County Hospital, New York. That the foundation now wants to capture the observations of the artists in a discussion with the public, experts and government, is a logical and important next step, which The Art of Impact therefore wholeheartedly supports.’’


Beautiful Distress, together with the Kings County Hospital Center, the Consulate in New York, and Residency Unlimited intend to organize an exhibition in 2018 at a prominent Brooklyn, NY museum, based on the above exhibition in Amsterdam. The exhibition will show the world of psychiatry based on works by artists who have participated in The Fifth Season and/or the Kings County project. 


An awareness campaign that combats the stigma of mental illness in an unorthodox and provocative way. Beautiful Distress will distribute posters throughout the city of Amsterdam which draw attention to mental illness. Through iconography using Michelangelo’s Pietà sculpture, Beautiful Distress confronts the public with the pain of the psychiatric patient. The photographs, made by a well-known photographer of famous actresses holding a psychiatric patient, aim to invite the viewer to empathize and identify both with the suffering as with the comforting figure. The posters will be placed on bus shelters, shops and buildings with a relationship to psychiatry. The format will be comparable to the ALS campaign recently held in the Netherlands. All posters will be published in a catalogue.


Our long-term dream and goal is to enter into cooperation agreements with psychiatric hospitals in big cities and/ or countries around the world, and to start up local Artist- in- Residency programs in those hospitals with an international exchange of professional and renowned artists. The exhibition of the work that will be produced by the artists during their residency period will be the starting point for a regularly (e.g. bi annually) returning international art exhibition and conference. Currently we are talking to psychiatric institutions and other parties in Japan, Berlin and Brussels.  

Apart from sharing high quality art internationally with as broad an audience as possible, and in this way contributing to creating more understanding for people suffering from a mental illness, the international conference will offer a unique platform for the stakeholders:  government and psychiatric health care organizations, patients and patients families to discuss new ideas and possible solutions and internationally share “best practices".


Wilco Tuinebreijer - Chairman of the Board, Initiator
Psychiatrist, Medical director of the Mental Health Department of the Amsterdam Public Health Service

Fleur Kuypers - Secretary, Project Manager
Lawyer; prev. Managing Director ATC Corporate Services/Intertrust Netherlands

Maarten van Overeem - Treasurer, finance and budget
Management consultant, Sr. Partner Expense Reduction Analysts

Suzanne Oxenaar - Director, Artistic advisor
Artistic advisor, President of the Fifth Season Foundation, Artistic Director Lloyd Hotel, Amsterdam


Beautiful Distress is supported by a group of trusted advisors who share our objectives. We looked for people with expertise in the field of art and/ or psychiatry. The current advisory group:

Bill Tucker - Clinical professor of Psychiatry, Columbia College of Physicians and surgeons
Jeanne Wikler - Former Dutch Cultural attaché to the United States
Rebecca Chamberlain – Artist
Jack Dekker - Professor of clinical Psychology, VU, Amsterdam
Cecile Gijsbers van Wijk – Psychiatrist
Hans Sanders – Psychiatrist
Sjifra Herschberg – Journalist
Annaleen Louwes – Artist
Bram Claassen – Initiator


Beautiful Distress is grateful for the cooperation with and support of, amongst others, the following institutions and individuals:


Fifth Season Foundation -  cooperation in various ways
Kings County Hospital Center, Brooklyn, New York -  artist residence and working space facilities
Residency Unlimited, Brooklyn, New York – program and artist support New York
Christiaan Kuypers, Kstudio, New York: graphic design


Netherland America Foundation (NAF), NY -  funding through a grant
Dutch Embassy and Consulate General of the Netherlands,  NY -  support as part of the Dutch Culture USA program
Carl van de Zandt, Partner Hand Baldachin & Amburgey LLP, NY - legal assistance 
Mondriaan Fund - directly sponsors the artist facilities

The Art of Impact Fund – provided funding through a grant
Civilence notaries -  assistance with the incorporation of the Foundation
Price Waterhouse Coopers -  assistance with obtaining the cultural PBO (ANBI) status
Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy -  address and office 


Beautiful Distress was founded, and is run by people who strongly believe in the Foundation’s mission. Funding is badly needed and greatly appreciated. U.S. based donors may support our activities in a tax-efficient way through a contribution to the Beautiful Distress Fund at the Netherland-America Foundation, Inc. (the “NAF”).  Because the NAF is a public charity, within the meaning of Sections 501(c)(3) and 509(a)(1) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, donors may claim the tax benefits allowed by U.S. tax law for their contributions. For more information, please see our website:


Stichting Beautiful Distress is located in Amsterdam and has its offices at:

c/0 Lloyd Hotel, Cultural Embassy
Oostelijke Handelskade 34
1019 BN Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Contact persons New York
Christiaan Kuypers:
Rebecca Chamberlain: