Piece of Mind: An Exhibit Focusing on Mental Health @ East Stroudsburg University

Raquel Sosa
Raquel Sosa

Piece of Mind: An Exhibit Focusing on Mental Health is an art exhibit consisting of student-submitted 2D artwork that relates to mental health. The exhibit was also a contest where survey results determined two winners who received prizes for their efforts in bringing awareness.

What was your budget for this activity?

Our budget for this activity was about $200 and we were funded by the Active Minds Chapter Development Grant. We used the money toward buying vases, visa gift cards, marble colored beads, table easels, floor easels, balloons, streamers, binder clips, appetizers, mini waters etc. We spent approximately $12.08 more than our budget.

Tell us how your chapter planned ‘Piece of Mind’ —

One of the first things we did is meet with ESU’s Art Association and asked them several questions about having an art exhibit on campus and they gave us really helpful tips on how to hang the art pieces, who we should reach out to, and other helpful tips. They also offered to help us the day of the event. After our meeting, we secured a location that has traffic and is able to accommodate the art pieces well. We chose the University Center because students go there to hang out, eat, study, etc. One of the things we were worried about is getting enough submissions since we planned this event for the end of the March and it tends to be a pretty busy campus around then. So, the officers and I talked about an incentive. We decided that the incentive would be that the two people that get the most votes will each get a $50 visa gift card. The way we decided how voting works is we would give a mini survey to attendees that asked the following “Which 2 art pieces are your favorite? Please write the #” and left two blanks for them to write.

We also had two other items which we used to evaluate the program. One was “This program helped me have a better understanding that mental health is for everyone.” The participant had to indicate Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, or Strongly Disagree. The other item was open ended and stated “Name one thing that you learned about mental health from looking at the art pieces.” To have a visual presentation of how voting would work on the day of the event we thought it would be a cool idea to have small vases on a table assigned to a number of an art piece then when the attendee would hand in their survey they will be given two beads so they can put in the vase towards the art piece they favored. Next, we set up 3 different times/locations to collect artwork before the event, one of the reasons we did this is because we wanted to make sure the artwork was appropriate before displaying it. And then we created a google forms copied from Active Minds at University of Rochester, which asked for information about the artist (name, details about art piece, email, phone number, and other important info) here is a link the form. In the google forms there is a Artist Participation Agreement which the participant digitally signed so we were not liable if the art piece was ruined, etc.

Then, the event was publicized through several methods. Flyers were posted around campus in many buildings. Across social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Active Minds ESU posted the flyer along with information about how to submit artwork. Several posts and reminders were made on social media to encourage students and community members to participate and attend the exhibit. The event was also listed on the University’s portal for organizations and events in addition to the “main calendar” of events for the school. Further, a publicity release by the university advertised the event and called for community submissions. This release was posted on social media and on the ESU website. The event also received coverage in the school newspaper. We also sent an email to certain professors asking them to let their students know about the exhibit. It is important to have this publicity go out as soon as possible before the event, 3 months before if possible. When collection times came we made sure at least two officers were there to collect the artwork and then we stored them in an officer’s dorm room.

Our goals for this event were:

  1. To gather audience members from different backgrounds.
  2. To showcase art depicting mental illness in all facets-experiencing it, recovering from it, supporting those who suffer from it – in order to remove stigma.
  3. To serve as a platform for expression for those who struggle with mental health.
  4. To unite different student groups in a coordinated effort to show support for fighting the stigma on campus.
  5. To grow our audience and artist pool for the event in hopes of expanding in size and length of display in future semesters.
  6. To leave a lasting impression on our community about the realities of mental health through artwork.

On the day of the event to set up all the artwork and decorated we had about 15 members help out; for break down since most students took their artwork we only needed 8 members. We made sure we attached a number to each artwork displayed (for voting purposes) and set up music, the voting table, a food table and a general Active Minds table. All in all, Piece of Mind received 14 submissions from students and received positive evaluations. Most of the people who submitted artwork also expressed interest in participating again.

What are your top tips for people who might want to do this activity?

  1. Collaborate with another club on campus, if possible an art association.
  2. Have members make an art piece during meeting time, this can serve as a great way for bonding and also gives you good art pieces for the exhibit.
  3. Word of mouth is most important and served as our most effective way to get people to submit artwork.
  4. Get publicity out as soon as you can.