Engage in arts to heal mental health problems

Silenkosi Moyo

National Gallery of Zimbabwe regional director for Bulawayo, Silenkosi Moyo, says her office is engaging local and regional artists in zoom meetings to explore and suggest solutions to mental health challenges in contemporary art.

The ongoing meetings have Bwanga “Benny Blow” Kapumpa from Zambia, Talent Kapadza from Zimbabwe and Olivia Nantongo of Uganda as the main speakers.

“Mental health is a big issue at the moment affecting everyone directly or indirectly. Artists are not spared and sadly sometimes as artists mental health is addressed when it is too late as people sometimes confuse creativity and mental health,” Moyo told NewsDay Life & Style.

“We want to use this conversation to articulate the issues that will build understanding of artists and their art. Art is therapeutic so this platform will assist the audience and consumers of art to appreciate the relevance of art in relation to spirituality and mental health.”

Moyo added that there was need for stakeholders to engage in artistic activities to address mental health while understanding the elements of spirituality in art.

“The Bulawayo conversations are an ongoing platform to share our stories and build our narratives. And they are meant for everyone, not just the arts industry players only. I thank everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to be part of these interesting conversations,” she said.

The International Mental Health Day is celebrated annually on October 10.

“As a curator it was more interesting to hear how artists are dealing with issues of mental health from their personal experiences to the artwork itself. 

“The contemplative process as an approach in artistic practice is important for an artist to recentre themselves,” said Zimbabwean curator, Laura Ganda.

“Also, interrogating mental health through art is in itself a transformative way of justifying the relevance of mental health. Nantongo, a photographer said she came out of her own experiences of mental health and acted like a conduit between her and society.”

Nantongo, a visual artist, mixed media painter and conceptual photographer noted with concern that not many artists in her country talk about their mental health. 

“They usually prefer to soak themselves deep in their art as their main way of coping with mental health issues. Art is like therapy for them. I am one of those artists,” she said.

“We need to talk about mental health and spirituality more publicly so that we can get to know other people’s views on such a topic,” said Nantongo.

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