The Healing Artist Collective exposes the raw discomfort of the day-to-day struggles posed by mental health issues as a result of chronic pain, trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, sexual assault, and domestic violence.
While the exhibit Edges of What I Feel expresses the personal intimate accounts of each artist and expands on the collective’s desire to grapple with the complexities of mental health. As we function within an era of interpersonal isolation, mental health statistics increase while access to proper mental resources consistently decreases, impacting those relying on an insufficient mental healthcare system. It disrupts our daily lives, creating a global sense of instability and fear. This newfound crisis thrusts mental health and chronic illness into global consciousness. As a result, now more than ever, people are realizing that the resources and the dialogue about mental health are simply not enough. Mental healthcare is inequitable, especially in marginalized communities. Class, race, ethnicity, gender, ability, and sexual orientation can play a role in not being able to access healthcare. Social stigmas are a barrier to those struggling with mental health, getting in the way of daily life. These stigmas can be a hindrance to job promotions, school, government assistance, and more. Too often, the systems in place are restrictive and are not built with those individuals in mind. This creates even more barriers that impede access to care, leaving them feeling frustrated and hopeless. The discussions we have about mental health are often peppered with toxic positivity and ignore the practical and deeply emotional challenges that people face when trying to seek out care for themselves.
This exhibit showcases recent artworks by the following artists: Naaseh Abdulrahman Abi, whose calligraphy is a personal response to the tangled portrayals of religion and politics that characterize life in his native Syria. Adrian Scalzo, Adrian’s sculptures are abstract representations of self, visual representations of his thoughts, and internal examinations of anxiety and depression. Alanna Rivera, after escaping a stifling 5-year abusive relationship, Alanna Rivera uses her paintings to process and visualize her resulting trauma and PTSD. CJ Davis, whose work reflects on the severity of her conditions and how often she feels the need to make herself palatable in the eyes of others in order for them to better understand her internal world. Michelle A. Smith, as a surviving military spouse, Smith creates sculptures and installation works that position the audience within her personal narrative that focuses on confronting and expanding the emotions of grief and loss. Moe Lewis, battling with the inability to effectively communicate with others throughout adolescence, Lewis uses art as a tool to express his life, thoughts, and emotions to encourage those around him to find themselves within his work. Liz Louise, whose work is a daily display of emotion; some days show her anger, defeat, and some show nothing at all- with themes of coffins and split lives. Steven Luu, Luu’s art aims to repurpose, reinvent, and retell his story of healing, specifically through the use of personal material. Tessie Van Dyke, using pole-dance as their main form of artistic expression, Tessie Van Dyke expresses the deeply piercing loss of control that one can feel in the clutches of mental illness.
This exhibition invites the viewer to become comfortable with being uncomfortable as the artists of the Healing Artist Collective speak candidly through their art to share the realities they face with their own mental and physical health challenges. These issues are sometimes so visceral that they cannot be explained through words alone. These artists speak through the universal language of art to offer the viewer a deeper understanding of their own personal struggles and triumphs. Working within the media of their choice, the artists use their artwork to bridge the gap between what is said and what is unsaid. They invite the viewer to gain a profound connection with their healing processes to invoke a greater healing within the collective wound.
Photo Credit to Cristan Torres