Visual artists tackle real life mental health situations in art exhibi

Fourteen visual artists and a sculptor will tackle real life testimonies of people suffering from depression and other mental health issues in an art exhibit on May 18 at the G-1 Lodge.
ArThrive: Rise Above Mental Health Challenges, is a 21 piece art exhibit that aims to promote awareness on mental health issues and help the Philippine Mental Health Association of Baguio-Benguet’s family support group.
Illustrators, painters, a photographer and a sculptor will bring to “life” through their works testimonies of people suffering from mental health as documented by professionals from the Saint Louis University Psychology Department.
Kora Dandan and Jimbo Albano, Ged Alangui, Gladys Anne Labsan, Jandy Carvajal, Ray Yodong, Kelly Ramos, Earl John Desuasido, Palma Tayona, Tioan Medrano, Dindo Llana, Czarina Calinawagan and fast rising Venazir Martinez will have illustrations and paintings on mental health issues.
They will be joined by photographer Kidlat de Guia and sculptor Bumbo Villanueva in the art show where part of the proceeds will go to PMHA’s family support group, said coordinator Malou Coronacion.
The works are the artists visualizations of what people suffering from mental health are going through that were put into words by SLU’s Psyche department personnel.
Mia Warren Cheong, Ederlyn Gatchalian, Aidylvir Borje, Bing Maximo, Lorraine Cerezo, Kryza Sito, Ashley Valdez, Eric Pascua, Gerz Sanil, Jeremy dela Cruz, Nerisa Gonzales, Faridah Cabigat and Triceayn DG Prestousa pitched in their writings on the testimonies of their psychologically challenged clients.
Valdez talks about Lei, a 30 year old with bipolar disorder. She writes:“The world is one big mass of beauty and… No matter how high the high, and how low the low,…You should know that you are of that beautiful thing…Let that beauty penetrate into your soul and radiate it back to the world…. You have no idea how amazing you are and how amazing you are to be.”
From this, Labsan used acrylic on canvas to make the art work Reconnect.
Tayona made three art works using graphite on paper. In the Face I Show, Tayona takes off from the writings of Borje on 19-year old Nina who was sexually abused and now suffering from acute stress disorder.
Borje writes: “It took me time to open up… Not wanting anyone to know… Afraid other people won’t believe me… I’m glad I mustered the courage to seek help… Not completely healed, but slowly getting there.”
In Hold On and You Only See Me Laugh, Tayona illustrates the state of two bosom friends suffering from depression. It was written by Sanil.
UP Fine Arts student Martinez, who is making a name for herself with her portraits of Kankana-eys at some walls around the city, tackles borderline personality disorder with Pag-ahon, Paglubog.
Her work was inspired by Warren-Cheong’s writing on Len seeing her mother Luna suffer: “Today is a good day…Thank, God. I look at her, and marvel at her animation and wit. She cracks hilarious jokes. She jumps up and down. She’s so beautiful. Today, she’s THAT fun, carefree, cool person she is on her “good days”. It’s like she’s a teenager, like me… and we can have lots of fun together! “Let’s go on a road trip!” she tells us excitedly. “Bahala na kung saan! It’s time to make happy memories again!” Yet…I have seen her, otherwise. I’ve seen her on her ‘bad days’. . .”
In Mukha, Mungkahi, Martinez tackles depression, which Pascua reports about a certain Jan.
With Sito’s writing about K, who is suffering major depressive disorder with peripartum onset, de Guia, son of national artist for film Kidlat Tahimik, made Cycles, a woven photography, diptych.
K, as Sito wrote: “I hear his cries as I slide under the covers, for some reason I couldn’t respond… Paralyzed and in their sight ungrateful, ‘There’s so much more to life!’ I can’t relate, how can it be… That this life is taking the life from me… But then I see his face and see him 20 years henceforth… I catch a glimmer of hope on gossamer wings ..He won’t always be small and things won’t always be this way… Love isn’t love ’til we give it away…”
In Traje de Boda II, a 12 inch bronze sculpture by Villanueva, it is about 40 year old Marie, who describes her grief response to a marriage dissolution.
In her writing, Gatchalian, tells Marie’s condition: “It’s been a few days… I’ve decided to end the marriage… To leave our conjugal home… Oh this sadness… As though all hope and happiness left me… I kept to myself, not leaving my abode… Are others thinking bad about me as a wife?…Weeks passed, and the gloom lifted… As I found myself in this newfound freedom…All is well, in God’s perfect time.”
The exhibit is also in celebration of PMHA – Baguio-Benguet’s 60th year anniversary next month which will have the “One Pine Day” event at Mount Santo Tomas. This is a walk to the summit where participants will plant a tree to help in the rehabilitation of the mountain which is closed to the public after getting a temporary environmental protection order.
In December last year, Black Out, a concert cum poetry reading was held at 18BC to launch ArThrive.
Coronacion said that the exhibit is therapy of sorts for people with depression or any mental health issues to still thrive or function normally despite the affliction.** PMLobien

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