Managing Art and Mental Health

Wharton undergraduates are organizing an art show and auction to destigmatize mental illnesses.


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From November 16–23, Alcocer and Art Associates (AAA), a group of ten Wharton students, will be hosting an art exhibit and auction in Claudia Cohen Hall. The art is created by patients at CareLink Community Support Services, a non–profit organization that works to provide adults with mental disabilities the tools to lead independent lives.

Mental health is a widespread and worrisome health issue in Philadelphia. According to the City of Philadelphia’s Community Health Assessment, 19.9 percent of adults in Philadelphia had been diagnosed with a mental health condition in 2014. The nature and intensity of these conditions may vary, but regardless of the degree of severity, mental health conditions can be debilitating, and some can find it difficult to manage their conditions while maintaining a stable and secure life.

CareLink is one of the groups in Philly that addresses the issue, serving around 1,000 of those individuals with mental illnesses. CareLink provides them with support, housing and assistance with jobs. Additionally, CareLink encourages its residents to participate in the arts over the years, including both visual arts and music, organizing events and workshops for them. CareLink believes that arts “hold great power to assist people in their recovery.”

Now, where exactly do the Wharton students come in? “It’s a Management 100 team,” explains Charles Li (W '20), the media outreach coordinator for the group. “It was more randomly chosen, I want to say. But we still bonded well together, and we managed to create an event for another organization in three short months.”

Although CareLink residents have worked with Management 100 teams in the past and have sold their artwork through these shows, this will be the first time that they hold an auction of the items.

Street spoke to members of AAA who pointed out that mental health and the stigma attached to mental illnesses are very relevant issues to Penn students. “You know at Penn, we all have our Penn Face, everyone thinks that everyone’s okay, and we have this negative perception of mental illnesses,” said Rachel Leong (W '20), the member in charge of contacting behavioral health organizations. “We’re just trying to show them these artists at CareLink, they have made something out of their lives, they’re doing what they love, and it’s possible for anyone to do that.”

One of the Auction and Sales coordinators, Feyi Makinde, (W '20), mentioned that because of the different kinds of stigma attached to mental illnesses in different communities, the event may be even more helpful. “I know that in certain parts of our community, like certain ethnic groups, mental illness may be more stigmatized than in the general Penn body,” she said, "so I think it’s really important that even if you’re not used to talking about mental health, come to this event and learn more about it!”

The opening night event on November 16 will be from 5–7 p.m. It will be free to all, with multiple sponsors including Insomnia Cookies, and booths from various on–campus and off–campus organizations including CAPS and Penn Wellness. There will be a speaker from CAPS to address mental health and stigma of mental health, and an auction of the art created by the artists. Additionally, there will be prints and smaller art pieces in the sub–$10 price range, for those on a student budget who want to show their support.

To attend the event, RSVP on their website by November 1.

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