UWL’s Active Minds Art Show

Karley Betzler, Staff Reporter

On April 16, the Hall of Nations in Centennial had its walls lined with color and easels. The song, “1-800-273-8255” by Logic—the title being the name of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline—played in the background.

UWL’s Active Minds organization hosted this collaborative art show in hopes of bringing further awareness to a message that doubled as their title: “Active Minds Creative Souls”. The purpose of this event was to help destigmatize issues concerning mental health. The show was inclusive to all because no matter who you are, creativity is something we all have and should be able to express.

UWL Junior Claire Darling, Active Minds Executive Board Member, stated that the Active Minds Club collaborated with the YMCA’s  Teen Center. “We’ve always wanted to collaborate with the YMCA Teen Center…and art is something anyone can do and that was a really important aspect.” Planning for this event began with advertising about two months ago after an Active Minds Executive Board meeting. Darling explained that Executive Board Member Kelsey Dockry was the one who shared the idea for this art show.

Darling went on to say, “We have artists here from UWL and then we also have artists from the community as well as artists from the Teen Center.” They also were showing pieces made by students who attended Holmen High School. “Holmen High School did a really great job, I have over 20 submissions from them,” Darling said.

Doris Beck, an Eighth Grader at Coulee Montessori Charter School, was an artist featured at this event. Beck had two pieces. One, she said, was to express her experience with autism. The painting was of a house constructed from puzzle pieces. One of the pieces was a rainbow, Beck said it was to symbolize the flag for autism. This rainbow piece appeared to be leaking out from the house and into the surrounding world.

Beck noted, “I’ve always liked art, ever since I was little. I’ve always tried to out meaning towards every piece of art I make.” Beck motioned towards her hair, which had been dyed a color reminiscent of grass after a thunderstorm. “I like to make my hair art, so I like having it inspired by something or give meaning to it.”

Beck and Darling submitted a piece to the show that they worked on together. Darling motioned towards a guitar which had been covered in various, brightly colored magazine clippings and stickers. The guitar had been donated to the YMCA’s Teen Center. “We created the guitar and we also collaborated with the YMCA Teen Center and we did an art night. There’s a whole bunch of their pieces here,” said Darling.

Darling added, “I’m overwhelmed with the amount of support. We have over 50 submissions here. They’re all different types of mediums, really I’m so proud because it’s everyone telling their story.” Among the art pieces were a mirror covered in wire art, rock jewelry, many paintings, photography and ink drawings.

Darling explained, “ I want this to feel as inclusive as possible. Everyone has mental health and everyone has their own experience, and I think it’s really important to share those with each other.” Darling went on to say, “Our whole goal is to change the conversation around mental health and make it something where people don’t feel ashamed to talk about it. We also want to reduce the stigma.” Looking forward, Darling hopes to make the art show an annual event.