May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and there’s no healthier way of dealing with the complexities and challenges of mental illness than through art, whether painting, poetry, prose or performance.
In recognition of that power, Fountain House Gallery—a not-for-profit gallery supported by the Fountain House, an organization working for the past 75 years to improve health, increase opportunity, and end social and economic isolation for people impacted by mental illness—will unveil “YELL!,” a new multi-sensory exhibit spotlighting the experiences of Fountain House’s artists and members.
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Funded in part by the Sozosei Foundation, the immersive outdoor installation consists of original paintings, first-person recitations of poetry and prose, video performances, written testimonials and more. The artworks were first on show at Herald Square Plaza from May 18 through May 22, during which they were projected onto the walls and ceilings of seven roofed modules (made to replicate tiny houses), with recordings of members’ voices and personal accounts played throughout each structure.
“As participants walk through them, they encounter an immersive narrative of Fountain House members’ thoughts, feelings and experiences. Each module of the piece is topical, illustrating themes such as trauma, stigma, incarceration, psychosis, identity, addiction, suicide, medication, hospitalization, hope, dreams, recovery and freedom,” reads a press release from Fountain House. “The final module emphasizes community-based recovery options and is staffed by a trained peer specialist who is available to answer questions and provide visitors with resources.”
“The aim of this multimedia maze is to parallel the daunting journey through an unfriendly and obtuse mental health system,” the release continues. “YELL! demonstrates the strength and perseverance of Fountain House members and celebrates all that this community can accomplish.”
The “YELL!” installation will next be moved to Governors Island this summer, where Fountain House will be an Organization in Residence. Check out a few of the artworks on display below: