To raise awareness of mental health and wellness, the Building Resilience and Voicing Empathy program (BRAVE) will showcase student art responding to the word “vitality” in the B-Gallery on Feb. 16-20.
The main theme of this project is to get students to respond through artwork with what is vital to their lives, intern with BRAVE Naima Scego said.
Project manager for the Suicide Prevention Program Farrah Greene-Palmer said before her arrival two years ago, Western didn’t have a program specifically for suicide awareness. She created the idea for the art show after seeing a convention on suicide and brought the idea to Western.
Most students’ submissions are welcome as long as they fit the theme, Greene-Palmer said. The types of artwork accepted varies, with students submitting poetry, visual media and monologue submissions along with others, Greene-Palmer said.
“I think sometimes people can get stuck in their trauma and not have a way to express it and art can be very good at that,” Greene-Palmer said.
Last year featured a similar exhibit which asked students to respond to the word “recovery,” Greene-Palmer said. The BRAVE program plans to make the art exhibit an annual event, Greene-Palmer.
It can be a risk factor for students when they feel a lack of purpose in their lives, Scego said. Expressing themselves through art then becomes a protective factor for them, she said.
“Protective factors can be things that make people less susceptible to suicide,” Scego said. “A protective factor could be a student’s ethnic identity.”
Assistant professor in the art department Lisa Turner said after beginning her role as the new print and visual media instructor, she was also given the assignment of being one of the coordinators for the B-Gallery. After collaborating with Greene-Palmer and learning about the previous BRAVE art exhibit, Turner took on the role of bringing attention to the exhibit this year.
Turner said the exhibition isn’t limited to just art students and anyone is welcome to submit a piece.
Turner wasn’t aware of the BRAVE program until she was told she would be collaborating with them, she said.
“To have an exhibition that celebrates mental health and all the things that are associated with it and the theme of vitality, I think is a really wonderful thing to be a part of,” Turner said.
Scego said BRAVE works to help lessen stigmas surrounding suicide and mental health by putting these events on and starting conversation.
“We really want to hammer home the fact that whatever has happened to you, there can be ways to learn how to cope with it,” Greene-Palmer said.