A Common Experience art exhibit sponsored by the Honors College opened Aug. 26,, unveiling work that helped artists through emotional difficulties.
The exhibit, called “Minds Into Matter: How Creating Art Affects Artists,” is located in Lampasas Hall. The works include paintings, drawings, photos and videos that intend to show art as another way of finding happiness, relief or something new in life, according to the exhibit’s webpage.
This year’s Common Experience theme, “Minds Matter: Exploring Mental Health and Illness,” explores how society views and perceives these issues, according to the webpage. A statement explaining what inspired the artist accompanies each piece of artwork and connects it to the Common Experience theme.
The gallery officials received 50 pieces of artwork from around the country and then narrowed the field to 20, said Billi London-Gray, curator of the gallery. London-Gray said the judging was based on the statement the artists were required to include with their work.
“With the statements, the artwork is very approachable,” London-Gray said. “It makes the exhibit and art unique by letting the viewer know how and why the work came to look the way it does. I hope that people realize it is healthy to make things and making any type of art helps people no matter what situation they are in.”
Joe Meyer, co-chair of the Common Experience committee, said one in four people have a mental health disorder. He said it is very difficult for people who have a disorder to discuss it because society has stigmatized it, forcing everyone else to do the same. He said art provides anyone an outlet to explore any issue.
“The main thing to learn about mental health disorders is they are a no-fault illness,” Meyer said. “I hope people get educated about the causes and get more comfortable enough to reach out to others to talk about it. I could only wish students will take advantage of the events about mental health and ask questions and to not be afraid to talk about it because it is not a scary thing.”
Some of the exhibit’s artists said in their statements they did not realize they were making something people would find beautiful or interesting when creating their artwork. Some said painting and drawing comes naturally to them and is a perfect way to express happiness, anger, love or depression.
“To me, art is like music,” said Ciara Knight, an artist whose work is on display. “People turn to music daily. As they turn to music, I turn to my canvas and pick up my pencil. It helps people express their feelings and is a safe way to clear your mind.”
Ruth Carrillo, anthropology senior, attended the reception and said the atmosphere is very open and informal. She said the statements accompanying the art give the viewer some perspective. However, she thinks no one can ever truly grasp and understand what the artist was feeling while he or she was making it.
Other events at the exhibit will be “Art on the Quad” Oct. 1, and an art therapy session on Nov. 1. More information about those events will be given out at a later date, according to the exhibit’s webpage.
Admission to the gallery is free and will be open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday until the end of the semester.