Campus Event: "El arte como estrategia para el manejo emocional"

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and in Puerto Rico, 1 in every 12 women develops breast cancer. So, many activities have been organized around campus to raise consciousness about it. Yesterday, the Alianza Inteligencia Emocional (AIE) hosted a dialogue with Susan Olivera and Margarita Mendez, both artists and cancer survivors. The activity, titled El arte como estrategia de manejo emocional, was held on the 3rd floor of the Student Center building.

The 3rd floor was decorated for the activity: pink balloons, many chairs and an adorned stage. There was pink all over, from the ushers’ clothing to the lapel ribbons they handed out. The activity began with an impressive performance; Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, was sung by Alejandro Sotomayor, president of Chorium.

Afterwards, Lynnete M. Barbosa and Alondra Pabon, president and vice-president of AIE, sat down with Susan Olivera and Margarita Mendez, and started the dialogue. We learned about their journey with cancer: how they got their diagnoses, how they reacted, what kind of support they received from family members, what treatments they underwent, among others. Both women discussed their stories confidently and openly; they even gave the audience advice like getting many different opinions, recognizing and researching what one has and crying one’s feelings out. As Susan Olivero said: “Hay que llorar para limpiar el alma (One must cry to cleanse the soul)”. They also discussed how art came into their lives. Margarita talked about how her book, Un regalo de amor para ti, came to be. Susan discussed how she got back into art and how painting opened a space for her emotions; she also spoke about her painting, Sobrevivi, which you can see at the Breast Cancer Art Project exhibition, in the gallery in Chardon.

The second part of the discussion was conducted by Mariam Ludim Rosa and Kaliany Serrano-Viera, who discussed emotional intelligence and its importance in our lives. As they explained, emotional intelligence is our capacity to monitor and recognize our emotions; it’s the balance between our feelings and reason. They informed us of the most important aspects needed to develop our emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-control, self-motivation, empathy and social activities. Kaliany Serrano-Vega discussed the role art played in her art and how emotional intelligence can be acquired through expressing ourselves with art, from painting to photography to writing. Then, she asked the audience to line up and paint a line on a canvas. We collectively decided on calling one Explosion de Vida and the other one, Fluir.

After everyone sat down, they introduced Anabel DeJesus, who performed an emotional interpretative dance. Then, we were instructed to go to the gallery in the Chardon Building; here, Susan Olivera guided us through the different artworks in the Breast Cancer Art Project Exhibition. She even told the audience some of the artists’ anecdotes. The paintings illustrate their artists’ experience with cancer, uncensored.

The exhibition will remain in the gallery until next Friday. If you’d like to know more information about the Breast Cancer Art Project, check out their website. Susan Olivero’s guided tour through the gallery is available in Alianza Inteligencia Emocional’s Facebook page.