In the early 2000s, Rob Duyungan travelled to China to teach English. While abroad, he encountered a multitude of medical problems, and also experienced the psychological discord of bipolar disorder and PTSD from his violent upbringing. He became incredibly ill from the compounding effects of these, made worse by the polluted air and water. Rob returned to Seattle with only a quarter in his pocket. His family refused to take him back in, and he found himself living in a tent. He broke teeth from eating chicken bones out of the trash.
Rob managed to land a job interview for a security guard position. He had no money or decent clothes, so he went in an outfit better suited for the beach than for work: flip flops, swim trunks, and a t-shirt. He got the job and was given three uniforms – polyester clothes that he would wear, even off-duty, to keep warm during the winter in his tent. He floated from job to job over the next few years, but hit a new low when he thought he was communicating with actors on television. In 2016, he became a patient at Harborview Medical Center and learned about Path with Art.
“In my art class, I made too thick of a line with ink… the teacher emphasized, 'there are no mistakes in art.' I realized my life was full of past mistakes and that I needed to move onto my next assignment in life.”
Rob’s first class at Path with Art was Acrylic Painting with Marni Sheppard. At first, he required a lot of attention. He constantly raised his hand and was always worried about making mistakes, but Marni emphasized, there are no mistakes in art. Soon after, he enrolled in the choir, where director Rebekka Goldsmith cultivated an atmosphere of trust and respect. He began to write songs and create piano compositions. His artistic skills improved, and his physical and emotional states did, as well.
“After having not been seen or heard for so many years, Path with Art has restored my trust in people and in myself,” Rob says. “I feel that I have value.”
Rob is currently enrolled in Path with Art’s Advanced Performance class, and participates in the Path with Art choir.