The future of mental health awareness and advocacy is at a crucial crossroads. As we endure a global pandemic marked by isolation and uncertainty, our precarity and resilience is ever apparent.
Mosaics features fourteen artists who have experienced firsthand the myriad trials, joys, and complexities of mental health. They are survivors, poets, community organizers, sculptors, caretakers, painters, parents, advocates, and healers. Together, their pieces create a mosaic reflective of our intertwined lives and histories, and invite us to consider our own entanglements with stigma, trauma, and healing.
Mosaics envisions mental health that is foregrounded in compassion, community care, systemic change, and decolonization. We hope to imagine these spaces together, celebrate the power of art, and embolden one another to share our stories.
This exhibition is a component of Mental Health Mosaics, a larger project using art, journalism, and conversations to foster a deeper understanding of mental health and wellness through a variety of cultural and social lenses. The goal of Mosaics is to destigmatize conversations around mental health and provide information and inspiration to drive positive change. Each artist in Mosaics responded to one of ten mental health-related topics chosen by the Mosaics Advisory Board in May 2021. The topics ranged from breaking the silence to understanding diagnoses, to houselessness, to Alaska Native traditional healing, and beyond. Check out the podcast, community events, and the workbook, all following these topics.
Curator: Cecilia Karoly-Lister
Mosaics Selection Committee: Erica Purruq Khan, Cecilia Karoly-Lister, Indra Arriaga, and Itzel Yarger-Zagal
Support and Coordination: Erin Willahan and Anne Hillman
Special thanks to Akela Space for the space and support that helped to make this show possible.
Thank you also to Mika Daniel, The Anchorage Museum, UAA Fine Arts, Habitat ReStore, NAMI-Anchorage, VOA Alaska, Alaska Public Media, and countless others for lending many hands to support this show.
This Exhibit was made possible with funding by Rasmuson Foundation, administered by the Alaska State Council on the Arts. Mental Health Mosaics is a project of Out North, in partnership with NAMI-Anchorage, and funding from the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, the Alaska Center for Excellence in Journalism, the Alaska State Council for the Arts, the Atwood Foundation and many other partners and individual donors.
Click on the images below to learn more about each artist and their work
Meet Aqavzik, she/they, a 20 year-old queer woman from Gambell, Alaska which is located on St. Lawrence Island (traditionally known as Sivuqaq). Aqavzik is Siberian Yupik and Lingít on her mother's side and Iñupiaq on her father's side. Raised by a single mother and older brother in Alaska's big village of Anchorage, they experienced the "typical" Native household where inherited trauma left untreated resulted in an alcoholic family.
Being one of the youngest in her family, Aqavzik has always sought to break the cycle of intergenerational trauma and actively works to change the "drunk Native" narrative by living her truth. Navigating through it all, Aqavzik finds solace in freehand writing and hopes to someday publish their poetry and maybe even a memoir!
Andrea Lee Nelson
Stories can be constructed from what is cast away. The central materials in my compositions are identified amongst the broken, discounted and abandoned. The known and unknown past of these found objects build layers of significance. I aim to express facets of these layers and generate intrigue through their arrangement. Originally inspired by santos and roadside shrines in the American West, my work has evolved over 25 years into the arrangement of endless found objects in examination of natural and cultural interplay, often within specific landscapes. My professional background in Alaskan archaeological fieldwork, historic research and museum curation greatly inform my art, as well as living in rural Alaska. More recently I have turned to found fabrics in the creation of faux taxidermy of Alaskan species. More of my work can be found at antelopearts.com.
Astrid Olson (she/they) is a photographer and a youth advocate. They are originally from Kenai but moved around in their childhood with their adopted family. After coming out as queer, they were sent to residential treatment and eventually moved back to Alaska. Astrid spent many of her teen years houseless, living in shelters, camps, or foster homes. During that period she experienced many traumas but also built lasting, supportive relationships. She’s now housed, working full-time, and parenting her beautiful daughter.
I’m Dagny. I have been a resident of Anchorage for 45 years and a hair stylist for 35 years. I enjoy art, painting, sea kayaking, yoga, meditation and spending time with my family. My husband and I are raising our teenage grandson after the tragic loss of his parents and brother. I am a person in long term recovery. I have experienced addiction, grief, trauma and the loss of my eldest son Alexander from suicide. Last year I trained and became a Peer Support Professional and I facilitate Peer Groups for Ionia and the AKTCA.
My name is Donalen Rojas Bowers. I am a first-generation Filipina-American that primarily does watercolor, embroidery, and digital work. I am also learning to practice tattoo. Most of my work deals with mental and physical health struggles I have gone through, which is my way of working through things. I hope to express that my (and universally human) experiences of pain and suffering can be made into something else, and can be used both as a tool and a framing device for the parts of life that I do love and treasure. My instagram username, where I post my
artwork, is @donalenbowers.
Dumile is an alternative R&B duo based in Fairbanks on the ancestral and unceded lands of the Dena people of the lower Tanana River. A recipient of a 2021 Individual Artist Award from the Rasmuson Foundation and a member of the independent artist cooperative TEXALASKAN COLLECTIVE, they are currently in the process of crafting their debut album.
Elizabeth Wulbrecht is a 29 year old Alaska transplant from Indiana. She works for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium as a project manager implementing water and sewer projects in rural communities. In her free time, she likes to read and write poetry and enjoy the outdoors with friends and her new dog.
I was born just west of London and studied Art and Art History at Oxford Brookes University (1984-87), an Advanced Postgraduate Diploma in Painting and Printmaking there concurrent with evening life-drawing classes at St Martin's School of Art, London (1990-91). In 2013 I was awarded a Masters in Art History from Birkbeck College. I teach at UAA's Art Department, am a radio broadcaster and lucky to be married to the artist Linda Infante Lyons.
www.grahamdane.com / @grahamdane.artist
Holly Mititquq Nordlum is an artist, a graphic designer, public art contractor, traditional Inuit tattooer and a hopeful social justice insister. Using many mediums: printmaking, painting, filmmaking, and tattooing to express her ideas about life and issues of native people in today’s world. Nordlum received a Bachelor of Fine Art Degree in Graphic Design and Photography from the University of Alaska Anchorage. Nordlum was named a Time Warner Fellow with the Sundance Film Festival, and received an Art Matters grant, and a Humanities Forum grant for her work documenting the Tupik Mi Project (traditional Inuit tattooing) – which was also featured in the New York Times Lifestyles Section Summer 2018, a Rasmuson Individual Artist Award, and was named to the Smithsonian’s Nation Museum of The American Indian’s Artist Leadership Program.
Lauren Stanford was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. She grew up spending her summers at her grandparents’ remote homestead, which fostered her imagination and inspired her love of animals. Lauren began working with clay while pursuing an English (Creative Writing) degree from Colorado State University. She graduated in 2010 and returned home to Alaska. Lauren went back to school full time to study ceramic sculpture and earned her BFA from the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2018. The following fall, Lauren began the first of two terms as an Artist in Residence at the Mendocino Art Center in Mendocino, CA. In 2019, she spent a month at the Red Lodge Clay Center in Red Lodge, MT as a short-term Artist in Residence. Lauren is also a fourth generation commercial fisherman and setnets near the mouth of the Naknek river each summer. When not in a clay studio or picking fish, Lauren enjoys spending time with her small pack of rescue dogs, dabbling in theatrical productions, or sipping a cup of good tea with family and friends. She currently resides in Anchorage, AK. Lauren's ceramic sculpture can be viewed on her website: laurenestanford.com
Laurinda Weston O’Brien is a tribal member of the Native Village of Mekoryuk. She is married with three children and two grandchildren. Laurinda is an advocate for family members who live with mental illness. Laurinda is new to electronic art and also has NFTs on OpenSea on a profile called PapaGamma and a collection called TundraWalks. Laurinda wants all the world to be advocates for vulnerable peoples. Laurinda wants alignment to services for the mentally ill that are aligned to seamless access that is fair and just. Quyana.
Sam Jackson is a Tlingit Native born in Sitka and raised in Haines. A natural artist, Sam has an eye for detail and form and likes to use his hands to be creative. He is inspired by animals, boats, bright colors, and things he finds on the beach. Sam has developed wood carving, painting, and drawing skills which incorporate NorthWest art and his own personal style. His non-stop sense of humor always adds an element of fun to his work.
Rebecca Brewer is a lifelong Alaskan who resides on her homestead in Haines. An adventurer and artist, she enjoys all sorts of subsistence activities. Her favorite skills are tanning skins, felting raw wool, wood carving, and basketry. She loves to make functional things that bring simple beauty back into daily life.
Sean Enfield is a writer and educator from Dallas, Texas and recently received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. At UAF, he served as the Editor-in-Chief of Permafrost Magazine, and now serves as an Assistant Non Fiction Editor at Terrain.org. His own work has been published in or is forthcoming from Hayden’s Ferry, Edible, Witness Magazine, Terrain.org, Tahoma Literary Review, and The Rumpus, among others, and he was the 2020 recipient of the Fourth Genre’s Steinberg Memorial Essay Prize. In 2013, his story, "Claudia Who Found the F," was featured on NPR's All Things Considered as a part of their 3 Minute Fiction contest judged by Karen Russell. His work can be found at seanenfield.com, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @seanseanclan.