Boston Museum of Science’s Exhibit, Many Faces of Our Mental Health
On Jan. 14, the Washington Post published a short article on the Boston Museum of Science’s new exhibit Many Faces of Our Mental Health , in which they asked what does someone with mental illness look like?
Through Feb. 11, visitors can ask themselves that question and find their own answers in the work of artist Lynda Michaud Cutrell. Partnering with psychiatrist-scientist Dr. Bruce Cohen and science journalist Dr. Rae Simpson, the exhibit allows an emotional as well as scientific approach to the understanding of mental health and mental illness.
Many Faces of Our Mental Health has various pieces concerning different illnesses and the people they affect, as well as the science of our brain. The 99 Faces Project: Portraits Without Labels remains one of the more powerful aspects of the exhibition, and is what prompted me to write this response.
Cutrell created and pulled together three different groups of people: 33 living with schizophrenia, 33 living with bipolar disorder, and 33 of their loved ones. The project is ethically accurate —including people who are Hispanic, Native American, Asian American, African American and Caucasian, ranging from 3 – 95 years old.
Even though I don’t live with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, I do struggle heavily with depression and anxiety. It is hard to live with and handle the thoughts and emotions, and I often feel alienated. So it does not surprise me to learn that 25% of adults in the United States have a mental illness, or that 25% of those with symptoms of mental illness believe that others are sympathetic to their condition.
Often, it is the absence of empathy that makes it so hard for those with mental illness to receive treatment. To see such broad representation of mental illness in, Many Faces of Our Mental Health exhibit, primarily two of the most misunderstood and poorly recognized forms, is beyond uplifting and transcends the hardship of finding someone or something to connect with.
The exhibition is a wonderful approach to an area of personal health that is misunderstood, miscommunicated and under supported in society. Using the science of the brain, the knowledge of chemicals that allow us to feel and behave the way we do, and the art of the human form, the Boston Museum of Science educates audiences. Encouraging understanding, support and respect for all mental illnesses and reminding us of the ongoing research into the brain and mind of man.
A more in-depth interview with the artist about her work and relationship with the media can be found here.