Erie Arts & Culture Launches "Feel Your Feelings Friday" to Help Maintain Mental Wellness
Community art and journaling projects to help express emotions surrounding isolation and social distancing
As part of their New Horizons program, Erie Arts & Culture plans the launch of two new participatory initiatives to help residents combat mental-health strain. In partnership with County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper and the Erie County Department of Health, these programs focus on kids and adults exploring their mental wellness and articulating their emotions during COVID-19 and social distancing.
Chanel Cook, Erie Arts & Culture director of programming and community relationships, said she hopes through these programs individuals will acknowledge emotions and understand "we all respond or react differently [which] has the power to uplift and bring us closer together as humans."
"Mindset is key to surviving and thriving through this public health crisis," Cook explained. "Art in all of its forms, visual, performing, or literary, provides an opportunity for expression, release of emotion and channeling energy."
Geared towards K-12 students, the first initiative asks for works of art that answer the question "how are you feeling?" Erie County youth are encouraged to use their choice of medium, artistic discipline, or material for their creations.
A virtual exhibit will contain categories for responses in Visual, Performing, and Literary Arts while submissions will be published by elementary, middle, and high school levels. Artwork should be digitally submitted at firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, June 15 at 5 p.m.
The second initiative is a 30-day journaling challenge for adults titled "Give Rise To Your Feelings." Community members can respond to the creative journaling prompts written by Kristen Weeks, project manager of New Horizons. Weeks said she hopes participants will experience self-awareness, reflection, and hope through journaling.
"I focused on our humanity as a whole and the ability we have to transform with prompting and self-reflection," Weeks said on creating the prompts. "As humans, we often forget about our interconnectedness and the thread that links us to those next door or across town. Erie is rebuilding bridges in our communities and I wanted to hone in on it."
Erie Arts and Culture will distribute over 150 journals to those participating and prompts will begin June 1. One of which being "Do you feel included, seen, and heard in your community? By elected officials?"
"The beauty of being creative, especially journaling, is the spontaneity of our mind pouring forth and finding emotions or feelings we were not aware were there," Weeks shared. "I have found parts of myself I didn't know were present when journaling. Plus, it is a recorded history of who you were at a particular moment in time."
Daily entries can be shared with Erie Arts & Culture on Facebook and Instagram via comments and tags. Participants can also email photos of journal entries to email@example.com.
"Erie County is a creative community," Cook emphasized. "We do not have expectations of the submissions that's the beauty of art! We welcome all forms and fashion."
Artwork and writing submissions will be shared in a digital gallery through Erie Arts & Culture's blog series titled "Feel Your Feelings Friday" at erieartsandculture.org/blog/fridays.
Any questions regarding the initiative can be directed to Chanel Cook, director of programming and community relationships, at firstname.lastname@example.org.