Mental health is a growing issue in today’s society. One in four of the population suffers from mental health related issues. With all the taboos surrounding it, it has become a challenge to discuss mental health openly and well-being. However, it is an ongoing battle and between students of all ages and backgrounds, spiritual healing is an important aspect of de-stressing and mental peace. To shed light on mental wellness week, Art week was held the University of Notre Dame Australia, on the Broadway campus. It was a week long event dedicated to focusing on the mental well-being of students. My experience in the event was enlightening and opened my eyes to the possibility of art as a coping mechanism for the mind.
Art Week was organised by Students Association of the University of Notre Dame Australia (SAUNDA). In previous years, it used to be a global themed event, in which they had performances such as singing, dancing, etc. However, this year, they turned it up a notch, organising a week-long event, where students displayed their artistic talents while others took part in the interactive art lessons set up my members of SAUNA. It was a set theme, which was art. The goal was to heal mental spirituality through a medium which isn’t commonly used. “It was a collective idea within the team,” said Rian Galliot, the education director of SAUNDA. “The reason we used art was that Notre Dame was full of artistic students who needed an outlet to express their talents.”
“The initial start was hard.” said Christian Santos, president of SAUNDA. “but when it gets going, when people join in, its great. People love being involved in it.”
The student body perhaps wished for something different, and the event delivered successfully. In my opinion, using art as a theme was perfect as it was vague in itself. “Art” was a way of expressing emotions in different ways. Through music, through voices, through drawing/paintings and knitting. There were many amazing singing performances which created a calm, blissful and beautiful environment with musical instruments backing their raw vocals. Other students performed magic and illusion tricks, walking around the courtyard and interacting with students and blowing their minds away (mine included). As for the art displays, many statements were made through the artworks and the viewers related to them. It made me realise that us students go through similar instances and art we find such similarities, connect to each other and be more unified. This was an ice breaker to get more acquainted with students, creating a stronger community. While being in the event, I felt the community spirit, and many participants agreed with me.
“This event is different, unique and brings the community together.” said Christelle Santos, the club director of SAUNDA.
Additionally, to promote students to get immersed in art, there were art tables set up, where everyone could paint, draw or knit. I was fortunate enough to witness a masterpiece come to life.
On Thursday of the week, there was a petting zoo in the courtyard. SAUNDA collaborated with The Law Society of Notre Dame to bring us beautiful animals! Everyone present loved it. Staff members and students alike dropped by for some precious moments with the beloved little creatures today.
And of course, a great event is never complete without great food. Sausage sizzle and crispy Nutella toasties were served for a dollar each.
And since this is an art event, there were some amazing artists who I was fortunate enough to meet. Talking to them and discussing the statements, styles and subjects of their works was insightful and inspiring. To look at their works, follow them on social media:
Facebook: Suds ‘N’ Sparrow
“I get to focus on nothing but the brush strokes, its like art therapy.”
Instagram: Jodie tabouli
“When exams pile up, I procrastinate, and art is the result.”
“I am an Australian artist residing in Sydney. I predominantly draw and paint fantasy or nature-based art using watercolour.
Deviant art: Astaldour.deviantart.com
“Art is meant to be an expression of beauty, and I like to express what that means. For me, as a Catholic, the topic of God is the source of beauty.”
I would like to thank everyone who came to the event, participated in it, enjoyed it and mostly, the Student Association and everyone else who was involved in organising it. The event was very well planned and executed. Many students and I included would love to see this event happen again. I encourage everyone to join in on the fun next time, submit their art, perform and get involved! It’s all worth it, I promise you. 🙂