Starting the Conversation

Neuro Blooms: Mixed Media Art by Leslie Holt from February 12th to March 28th at The Stamp Gallery | University of Maryland, College Park | Written by Erin Allen

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The Stamp Gallery’s newest exhibition, Neuro Blooms: Mixed Media Art by Leslie Holttakes a unique approach to combating the stigma associated with having and treating mental illness. Through her “Brain Stain” series, local artist Leslie Holt combines clinical PET scans with experience-based representations of what different mental health conditions look and feel like. Showing the intersection between the cold, often impersonal depictions of mental health seen in medical settings and the individual, emotional accounts of what living with a mental illness is like, Holt brings a sense of nuance and humanity to a topic that is often stigmatized and silenced. Through a variety of colorful wall pieces and sculptural paintings, the gallery becomes an engaging place to discuss the meaning (both literal and emotional) of these mixed media works. In addition, Holt continues to expand the conversation by creating a safe space for visitors to share their own experiences with mental illness, or to lend a thoughtful piece of advice or motivation to those struggling with their own mental health.

While perusing the mixed media “Brain Stains” positioned throughout the space, you may stumble upon a note stuck to the wall that reads, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Walk a little further into the space and you’ll see another that says, “Spring is coming. The sun is coming. It will be warm again.” Written on specially designed Neuro Blooms sticky notes, these short quotes and sayings have been left in the gallery by visitors wanting to leave their own mark on the space and support those who come after them. IMG_6489.jpeg

Holt further encourages visitors to engage with the exhibition through her inclusion of a reflection area in the back of the gallery. Shrouded by curtains adorned with their own Neuro Blooms, this space provides a quiet corner where people can journal, draw, and color while reflecting on their own mental state or their experiences in relation to mental health. Provided with reflection journals and coloring sheets depicting brains experiencing illnesses ranging from depression to ADHD to schizophrenia, this space serves to educate visitors and remind them to care for their own mental well-being. The next time you stop by the gallery, take time to reflect upon the meanings of the various colors and forms present in the Neuro Blooms, and feel free to add your own voice to the conversation.

Leslie Holt’s work is included in Neuro Blooms: Mixed Media Art by Leslie Holt at The Stamp Gallery of the University of Maryland, College Park, from February 12th to March 28th. 

For more information on Leslie Holt, visit https://www.leslieholt.net/



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