By Astrea Somarriba, Admin Assistant & Communications Coordinator
It started with a prompt and a puzzle piece, and developed into a collection of unique experiences and artistic expressions that spoke louder than words. On Saturday, Young Minds journeyed to Youth In Mind’s Oakland office to facilitate a “Creative Advocacy” art workshop. Participants were given a canvas “puzzle piece” and asked to reflect on their mental wellness journey through creative expression. Afterwards, we pieced all of them together to create a large mosaic in the shape of a girl holding a megaphone, the symbol for Young Minds’ work.
What struck me most about the workshop was the diversity in how each artist reflected on and conveyed their unique experiences. I was reminded that there is no singular form of expression. One young artist painted with her fingers, another wrote words like “stigma” and “powerful” on his piece. There were symbols, figures, and landscapes. Bright colors, muted colors, and colors that represented identity. Here are just a few of the pieces that were created:
“This is a lotus flower – a symbol that represents a huge part of my Buddhist upbringing. It is a symbol of peace. Looking at lotus flowers also reminds me of the importance of culture and home as a part of healing.” – Irene
“This project is special to me because I have always struggled with not seeing my outer beauty. In having to recreate her face,
Winds of Change
“This was a slow, progressive process. It represents the vast amount of experiences and the crossing of paths, experiences, and journeys. Multiple experiences merging paths to create the unknown, the painful, the joy, the unexpected. It’s a beautiful mess. We’re not alone.” – Nguyen
Each individual puzzle piece is a work of art that tells its own story of growth and healing. Brought together, the narrative grows even stronger through the unity of creative expression, community, and resilience. One participant, Shawn, said “through my mental health journey, I came to realize my voice is powerful. My creativity is unmatched and my statement for resilience is golden.”
Thank you Youth In Mind, and everyone who participated in this workshop, for sharing your creative spirit and stories of growth.
Join us on April 30th to see the final product, and over a hundred other pieces created by youth, on display at the SOMArts gallery during our “Creative Advocacy: Kick Off to Mental Health Awareness Month” event. Let’s celebrate the talent of local youth artists and the efforts of mental health leaders in our community!