Loneliness and isolation have been on the rise for the past year and have especially affected university students who can no longer physically see friends or attend classes, sports or events.
In response to these issues, Aidan Cowan, senator at-large for the Student Government Association (SGA), founded the Mental Health Art Gallery project. In April, Cowan seeks to engage the community in a discussion and exhibition on the importance of mental health while also providing resources.
His reasoning behind such a project is that he feels “college is already strenuous enough” and that “COVID has only exasperated that even more.” Cowan said that he felt that it was vital for SGA to arrange an event that would address that from several differing perspectives.
Cowan’s hope is to have an art exhibit featuring student artwork that takes place between April 26 and May 3 in the University Center (UC). The location may change due to construction. Various art forms are being accepted, from sketches, poetry and skits to dance routines and paintings.
He believes that “art is a powerful form of expression” and is a “method to convey a plethora of…emotions and experiences.”
With the council creating a virtual platform, in addition to a physical gallery, students will be able to connect with one another without violating COVID-19 guidelines.
For the virtual portion of this event, SGA is working on a website where all the content will be accessible. The aim of the website is to help people who would like to view the art without having to commit to the live display and scheduling issues.
Additionally, Cowan has planned a comment section in the virtual gallery so that students will be able to “reflect openly with their peers about what they think about the art, mental health in general, and any questions that may be answered.”
While this topic can be challenging, he believes art provides a “new avenue for students to express themselves and their thoughts in a way that words sometimes cannot.”
He added that if someone is submitting a piece, they should expect to be contacted by faculty or staff from the Wellness Center for mental health if deemed necessary.
All art submissions will be due at 11:59 p.m. on April 19. SGA’s guidelines ask for all drawings, paintings and sketches to stay in an 18 inch by 24 inch format for spacing reasons and note that if someone submits a video, it will only be displayed online.
All works will be accepted, and they do not need to have been created recently. They are also eligible for prizes centering around creativity and content, after a judging panel reviews them.
To submit your art, you can use this Google form.
For more information, please refer to the SGA page on the UCCS Website or the email sent to all UCCS students. SGA can be contacted through their official Instagram (@uccs_sga) or by calling 719-255-3946, and Aidan Cowan can be contacted at [email protected].
Below is a QR code you can also use to submit your work.