The Frye addresses well-being through “Group Therapy”

Hailey Nelson

Of the key elements shaping and defining the fast-pace world in which we live, mental health has become a more approachable topic than it has ever been.

Awareness and active support for mental health issues are bigger than ever, and still growing. From spa treatments to yoga classes, journaling to going for a run, there are many ways to upkeep the state of health which our society deems most fit.

For the artists who are a part of the “Group Therapy” exhibition happening at The Frye, responding to this sort of modern movement is attainable through art.

Amanda Donnan, a curator at The Frye, mentioned the connection between museums and the public in an essay about the exhibit.

“Museums are mirrors of culture past and present, not instruments of direct social change, … but they do assemble temporary communities based in [shared] curiosity, which is the necessary precondition for caring,” Donnan said in an essay about the exhibition.

Twelve artists were part of the creation of the museum’s lengthy exhibit, which features multiple rooms each depicting different themes and styles of work. A few of the creations that were given a broader space to work with included ideas of meditation, self-reflection and inner harmony.

Many focal points were centered around human anatomy and every-day objects or encounters, portraying a deeper understanding of the physical world in which we practice day-to-day life.

“Visiting an art museum is now a self-optimizing activity,” Donnan said.

“The twelve artists presented in ‘Group Therapy’ respond to this current state of affairs in a variety of ways.”

The exhibit indirectly poses a question of its contents’ relevancy while exploring how modern-day mental health is understood and confronted.

One perception of “Group Therapy,” when walking through the exhibit in order, follows a sequence of setups that depict the proposed journey of improving mental health.

At the beginning of the exhibition, societal pressures and constraints are depicted by various arrangements that may be associated with sources of discomfort and anxiety. Further on, the inner workings of human bodies are analyzed, and at the final room, peace is explored through interactive displays.

The opportunity to physically engage with the artists’ pieces presents itself repeatedly throughout the exhibit. Comfortable places to sit and contemplate are strategically offered at various places, and as one progresses through, simpler and less aggressive visuals become more common. The meaning behind the pieces, however, remains equivalent in their potential to impact a viewer.

Some pieces come from the early 2000’s while others have been worked on this past year. The exhibit, though its pieces have been made recently, addresses older rituals of mental cleansing, exploring ideas of dance and healing dating back to medieval times.

Much of the show uses human figures to demonstrate a more personal application, while also portraying what seems to be unnatural human behavior. Images of acupuncture, odd dancing and mechanical movements are just a few of these behaviors.

While walking through, being confronted by these ideas, individuals may find themselves contemplating their own well-being, and experience a demo of what addressing mental health entails.

Donnan said, “The art institution’s greatest strength might be its ability to help that community recognize itself as such by reflexively magnifying the role of the spectator.”

Group Therapy will be on display until Jan. 6, 2019.