June 14, 2022

Student Exhibit Focuses on Mental Health, Empathy

La Sierra University student Michelle Hwang says all can help those who hurt inside.

La Sierra University News

Michelle Hwang, a senior fine arts major at La Sierra University in Riverside, California, United States, is capping her undergraduate work with a solo exhibit that delves into the difficult topic of mental health.

Titled “How Are You Feelin’ Today,” the show at La Sierra’s Brandstater Gallery includes installation and printed art and ran from May 22 to May 26. An artist’s reception was held on Sunday, May 22, at the gallery. Hwang’s exhibit encourages viewers to consider and enter into “an uncomfortable but much-needed space to think, talk, and learn about mental health,” she notes in her artist’s statement. “We can all show more empathy and listen to those who are hurt inside.

“This exhibition focuses on eight different mental states and experiences that most of us have felt or encountered at some point in our lives. It bridges the gap between those who may not understand and those who need to be understood.”

In an interview, Hwang expanded on the reasons for the show’s theme, stating she hoped it would “give comfort to those who are hurting as well as [educate] people more on this subject. Mental health is a sensitive topic and a very personal one to me too, and I want to share my journey of combining art and mental health with everyone,” she said.

Gallery director and art and design professor Tim Musso noted, “Art and design senior Michelle Hwang brings us an incredible new exhibition. Using her design thinking and making skills, she tackles the topic of mental health using interactive sculptural installations and a suite of dynamic PSA posters.”

Hwang is a Riverside native who hopes to work in a creative studio in the future. She chose to attend La Sierra after participating in a tour of the Art+Design department prior to her freshman year. “[I] quickly fell in love with the place,” she said. “The professors care a lot for their students, and all the art majors felt like a family. There was a sense of community within the department, and witnessing it all made me want to come to La Sierra University to experience it myself.”

The original version of this story was posted by La Sierra University.