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Sharing Mental Health Stories And Healing Through The Arts

Located on the campus of San Joaquin Delta College, the Horton Art Gallery presents “Break the Silence: Sharing Stories on Mental Health and Healing Through the Arts” from Jan. 24 through Feb. 14.

The exhibition presents works that explore mental health from the creative process and healing in and through the arts. The Gallery is always free and open to the public during exhibition hours.

The exhibition was developed in response to the multimedia project “Break the Silence,” a collaborative effort with students and faculty from Delta’s Radio and Television, Mass Communications, Photography, and Graphic Arts programs.

The project focused on bringing awareness to mental health and wellness issues.

“The value of peer-to-peer messaging was apparent to all who participated in this project. It is important to recognize and address mental health on college campuses,” organizers of “Break the Silence” wrote on the project website.

“I have learned that we tend to see each other as different but we’re more the same than we think,” one student participant wrote. “This is comforting because I am learning I am not alone in my depression. It is actually normal to feel the way I do.”

Gallery director and exhibition curator Jan Marlese determined to continue the dialogue of the multimedia project and launched a nationwide search for artists working in the healing arts genre.

In addition to the five professional artists exhibiting their work in the show, the Gallery engaged artist and Delta College alum Judy Shintani to work with 11 Delta College art students to create work for the exhibition with the theme of resiliency and healing through the arts.

Participating students created plaster cast masks adorned with a variety of sculptural features, paint, organic and found objects, personally selected to symbolize their concept of resiliency. Students of diverse backgrounds were brought together through art making to interact, connect, and discuss what resilience means to them. In addition to the creative and technical process of art making, the resilience mask workshop explored topics of: Interpersonal support systems, Communication, Self-confidence, Self-care, Positive focus vs. “negative Velcro”, Gratitude and Mindfulness meditation.

“Art is a way to explore and create resilience strategies that are unique to each individual,” Ms. Shintani said. “The student artists experienced innovative ways of accessing resilience and ways to go deep into their art process. The mask-making project was new to most of them and for some working in 3D was also a different way of creating. All the artists in the class acknowledged that creativity is a valuable ability to help focus and take a break from chaos, and create a different world if they wish to. Art making is a way to have control, survive and thrive this sometimes difficult world.”