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Stories Untold: Where Mental Health Meets Creative Expression

The official poster for the third iteration Stories Untold art exhibition (source: Stories Untold Official Facebook Page).

Stories Untold: Where Mental Health Meets Creative Expression is an exhibition run by University of Pittsburgh students that highlights the mental health struggles that college students in the Pittsburgh-area have faced during their time in school and in their lives. For some students, these may consist of day-to-day stressors, but for many, mental health issues are something they have dealt with for years and likely will continue to in the future.

At the opening reception, which was on World Mental Health Day, many of the speakers discussed how cathartic and restorative art can be. The gallery itself holds the art of 17 local artists in the forms of visual art, music, and writing. The University of Pittsburgh Student Government Board is hosting the exhibition as part of their Mental Health Awareness Week, alongside other events to get people to discuss mental health, as it is often overlooked but very important to college students especially. The tagline is “Let’s Talk,” which is simple and necessary. Talking with friends, family, or counselors honestly can be so helpful, whether you live with a mental disorder or not. 

Some of the resources provided by Pitt’s Student Government Board for Mental Health Awareness Week, present at the opening reception for Stories Untold.

Pieces were allowed to be submitted anonymously, but I only saw one piece that was labeled as such. While this may seem to be trivial, it is truly so important to see artists claiming their mental health as is and showing that people you may see every day may be dealing with illness or stress that you have not yet been able to recognize.

It was very nice to see that some of the artists were majoring in STEM fields since these fields are often seen in opposition to artistic work, and mental health can be so overlooked in those who are pursuing careers in STEM. Many of the artists had chosen their major or minors so they could make a positive impact in mental health, which they already are just by providing their art to the exhibition.

I was lucky enough to have my poetry accepted and placed in the exhibition, and my greatest  hope is that my words can impact other people who may feel the same way I have felt before. Students can definitely feel very alone in the overwhelming blur that is college, so it is reassuring to know others understand.

Stories Untold will be open October 10-21 in the Conney M. Kimbo Gallery in the William Pitt Union on the University of Pittsburgh’s campus, located in Oakland. The galleries hours are Monday-Thursday 10am-5pm, and Friday 10am-4pm.

Jessica Keller is a senior biochemistry major at Chatham University minoring in psychology and music. She is a culture writer for The Chatham Post. This summer, she started as a columnist for Queer PGH. Her poetry and prose have been featured in multiple editions of Chatham's Minor Bird literary magazine.
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