Mental health and art meet at this Filipina-led exhibit in UC Davis

To the unconventional thinkers and feelers.

To those lost but found in art’s embrace.

The intersection of art and mental health is nothing unfamiliar to us. People view painting as a stress reliever and writing as an instrument to convey one’s thoughts. Art contributes to our mental health, and vice versa.

For many, including myself, creative expression is a security blanket. But not knowing how or failing to understand the gravity of their relationship, is sort of like not knowing how your best friend likes their coffee, coffee that gets them through their hectic days. As Harper Lee put it, how else would we grasp all of this if not through climbing into someone else’s skin and walking around in it?

Multisensory art exhibit

Two friends who share a similar spirit and drive to promote diverse personal artistry have come together to do just that. Macy Lee and Jiji Patricio, University of California (UC), Davis students, are holding their first multisensory art exhibit until today, June 4, at their university.

Patricio, 21, is a visual artist, disc jockey, programming director for KDVS 90.3 FM, and scholar-activist who’s pursuing BA degrees in Anthropology and Asian American Studies.

Lee, 20, is a speaker, writer and photographer for mental health, social justice and education. She started the Philippine-based mental health nonprofit Talang Dalisay along with My State of Mind, its global branch, which is active in different parts of the world. She is studying Psychology and International Relations.

As they navigate through their own ruminations about identity and meaning, their wish is to empathize with their audiences through art they have curated from a mix of students and award-winning artists.

The exhibit, called “Worlds Through Minds,” does not fall short on enlightening us with wisdom by viewing lives through another’s lens. Being an online and in-person exhibit with various forms of art from across the globe, the topic of mental health is distinctively tackled by artists’ art, photography and poetry.

Macy Lee, 20, is a speaker, writer and photographer for mental health, social justice and education.

Representing the Philippines are artists Felezedad Caridad, Wipo Wipo, Colin Dancel, Mariano Batocabe, Natasha Mañosa-Tanjutco, Aia Solis, Pau Villanueva and Gab Mejia.

Cofounders and cocurators Lee and Patricio gave us a glimpse on how it all came to be.

Walk us through your thought process in deciding to curate these pieces and in linking the advocacy of mental health to your exhibit.

Lee: Many people, experiences and artists inspired me to push through with this exhibit. But one person really ignited the spark in me and one day after seeing them, I just started shooting out so many ideas and contacted people I’ve admired for the longest time to ask them to work with me. I started this idea and slowly asked people about it in January, until my friend and cocurator Jiji reached out to me with a surprisingly similar idea. It was fate and truly meant to be. I reached out to artists from home in Manila, to my home here in California, and other people from around the world whose art spoke to me deeply. I think that the artists I invited come from such unique and diverse backgrounds that reflect their own personal, genuine stories which is the only thing that really mattered to me.

What cathartic emotions can the viewers expect to feel as they walk through the exhibit, virtually or in-person?

Jiji Patricio, 21, is a visual artist, disc jockey, programming director for an FM station in California, and scholar-activist.
Jiji Patricio, 21, is a visual artist, disc jockey, programming director for an FM station in California, and scholar-activist.

Patricio: I think viewers should expect to feel generally overwhelmed while walking through our exhibit. These art pieces evoke a range of emotions, from discomfort, to sadness, to joy, to confusion, to everything and anything else you can possibly think of. Art is powerful in this way, and I think because we have so many dynamic artists in the space (over 20), people are bound to experience a wave of emotions as they look and walk through the Basement Gallery. My hope is that viewers will critically engage with these feelings as they arise and pass and ultimately examine the deeper realities that such emotions speak to.

This exhibit must mean a lot to you both. How do you feel about your brainchild?

Lee: I really just want to share and highlight the power and importance of language through art. This is a universal, open medium people oftentimes overlook and take for granted. However, this exhibit is a reminder that this should be celebrated, as it binds people together and connects the inner and outer lives of people from all over the world. We live in a beautiful, loving universe amid all its bigotry, and it’s pertinent to remind ourselves and each other of that truth!

“Worlds Through Minds” is an online and in-person art exhibit in northern California, capturing worlds through the minds of others.
“Worlds Through Minds” is an online and in-person art exhibit in northern California, capturing worlds through the minds of others.

Patricio: I am super grateful that I got the opportunity to cocurate a project like “Worlds Through Minds” while at UC Davis. As a nonart student here who loves art, it was always hard for me to balance my creative interests with my workload due to limited time and capacity. But this small idea eventually became a passion project that is finally coming to fruition—right before I graduate, too—and I couldn’t be happier! —CONTRIBUTED INQ

Follow @worldsthroughminds on Instagram; visit worldsthroughminds.com.