Art in the time of Covid-19


THE social development arm of the Araneta Group, the J. Amado Araneta Foundation (JAAF) is conducting a series of online art therapy sessions to select youth participants and medical frontliners in response to ill effects of the pandemic.

Titled I am Visible: Mental Wellness Through Art Therapy, the project—which was organized via a grant from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA)—started with its first online session via Zoom just recently.

I am Visible aims to acknowledge the mental health crisis happening in the country today which is being exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic. Among those affected are students who deal with stress and depression given the current online learning set-up, and doctors and community health workers who deal with burnout and anxiety from longer working hours and various work hazards.

“This is one of the bold and major undertakings of JAAF for 2021. We have taken steps to help address a growing issue of the society—mental health. We have targeted vulnerable groups, which happen to be within our circle of influence, and even beyond,” JAAF executive director Diane Romero remarked.

JAAF partners with the Makati Medical Center Foundation for I am Visible, with the latter providing facilitators and identified doctor-participants. Joining the program as art coaches are veteran artists Rene Canlas and Julius Legaspi, who will introduce the medium of drawing and painting: pencil, pastel, watercolor, and acrylic paints.

The program includes an online exhibit launched last October 10, which is designated as World Mental Health Day. The exhibit is curated by art teacher Jonah Mari Valenzuela, who has 15 years of art teaching experience with Xavier School Manila. The virtual exhibit is hosted on the web site of Araneta City’s art museum, the Gateway Gallery, which spearheads the I am Visible project.

The exhibit will be up until January 10, 2022.

Most of the time, mental health problems are dismissed and swept under the rug. With I am Visible, participants are given voice, listened to, acknowledged, and made visible. With I am Visible, mental health becomes legitimized, discussed and supported because healthy communities start with holistically-healthy individuals.

JAAF and Gateway Gallery is thankful to the NCCA, Makati Medical Center Foundation, and CANVAS for supporting I am Visible and the mental health cause.

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