WSW: Art That "Looks Beyond" To Create A Dialogue About Mental Illness

Sep 6, 2018

One of Jennifer Leigh's posters on display at Friday's Art Hop in Kalamazoo
Credit Jennifer Leigh

Jennifer Leigh says she uses art as therapy. Grace Barrett says drawing helps get her feelings out and relax the symptoms of depression. Both of them will have art on display at Friday’s Art Hop in downtown Kalamazoo.

The exhibit SEE ME: Looking Beyond Stigma will be on the first floor of the Epic Center Friday from 5:00 until 8:00p.m. The exhibit is being presented by the #LookBeyond campaign. It was launched last year to reduce the stigma of mental illness, substance abuse and developmental disabilities.

Leigh says her favorite work is water color, but for this exhibit she did an anti-stigma poster series. Barrett says she draws what she is feeling at the moment. She wants people to see how she is feeling, and how other people suffering from depression might be feeling.

Drawing by Grace Barrett on display at Friday's Art Hop in Kalamazoo
Credit Grace Barrett

While having art on display is “nerve wracking” according to Barrett. She says it’s also exciting. She says art allows the viewer to see a little bit into the artist’s mind. Leigh says while art can help people understand more about mental health. She says for people suffering from mental illness, it can help people feel like they are not alone.

Leigh says more open dialogue is needed about mental health. Leigh says issues like sexual abuse have been taboo, but she says more people are talking now, and know about options for things like therapy.