More and more Malaysians are learning to appreciate the role of arts in raising mental health awareness. One fellow Malaysian and art curator, Dymphna Lanjuran, opened the doors of her art gallery, Inner Joy Art in Section 16 Petaling Jaya, for an art exhibition on 10th October to raise mental health awareness in conjunction with World Mental Health Day 2020.
Aptly named ‘Be Kind. Have Courage’, the exhibition features artworks from local and international artists from various walks of life with art that ‘speak’ about mental health. Artworks from twelve artists (Danial Kushairi, Ejan Ahmad, Grace Wang, K. Aveena Devi, Kumar Nagalingam, Mariyam Shany Ahmed, Pan Wai Ling (Claire), Prabh Lahari, Rekha Menon, Shia Lynn Victor, Wong Jia Yaw (Edward) and Yow Chi Leng) are now available for viewing online during this CMCO period. Some of these artists are differently-abled, for example, Danial Kushairi is a 17-year-old boy diagnosed with autism while Wong Jia Yaw (Edward) and Pan Wai Ling (Claire) are hearing impaired.
Diagnosed with Spina bifida and bound to a wheelchair, K. Aveena Devi’s painting – ‘My Emotions’, highlights the importance of grief and coming to terms with emotions after she lost her grandmother.
‘Does anything I do matter?’ by Mariam Shany Ahmed (Manje) is one of her recent artworks that puts forward the most misunderstood mental illness in society, clinical depression. At the centre of her artwork is an MRI brain scan of a person diagnosed with depression surrounded by judging eyes.
Another thought-provoking painting is ‘Autocuidado’ which means self-care in Spanish features a woman sleeping while her mind flows like a waterfall. The artist, Pan Wai Ling seeks to highlight the human state of mind in the form of a waterfall. Other elements in the painting like the dry soil and rock represents health while a full moon indicates the same cycle we go through in everyday life – “work, rest, repeat”.
Two of the featured artists, Kumar Nagalingam and Grace Wang went on to launch their books on 11th October which suited the theme of the art exhibition. Grace Wang launched two books – ‘Master, Where are You?’ and ‘Accept Ourselves No Comparison’ while Kumar Nagalingam presented his book ‘The Dialogue’.
Check out the the video below:
Source: YouTube/Beyond Canvas Art
On his thoughts about the state of mental health awareness in Malaysia, Kumar with years of experience in personal development training says, “(there is) very little awareness and very little support (for mental health). It (mental illness) goes undetected, and families usually brush it off as something light or just a part of aging.”
Having an uncle who struggled with mental health issues, Kumar gave some suggestions to take care of one’s mental health. “Do what gives you the most joy, keep in touch with friends who care, stay active, know yourself.” He adds jokingly, “…and read my book!”.
A round of applause to Inner Art Joy and the artists who took up the challenge in these trying times to showcase their art for a good cause!
View the thought-provoking artworks on ‘Be Kind. Have Courage: Mental Health Awareness’ here