The ‘Empty Chair Project’ Leaves Enough Space for Mental Health Awareness
by Anne Marielle Eugenio, November 21, 2019 1:38pm
Photos by Inside Manila
According to the Commission on Population and Development, suicide is the third leading cause of death of the young generation. We can’t ignore this statistic now. Support groups are taking steps to raise awareness among people. Taking into art as an avenue to start "Chapter 2: The Empty Chair Project.” takes a seat into the conversation of Mental Health.
The Empty Chair Project is an exhibit by the Visual Arts Helping Hands Foundation, Inc. (VAHHFI) in partnership with the Metropolitan Museum of the Philippines. VAHHFI curated this display for its health initiative for practicing visual artists and artist support professions.
But this project is not just for the artists’ well-being. Chapter 2: The Empty Chair Project is also meant for raising mental health awareness. 56 Visual artists transformed empty chairs and stools donated by Casa Bella into a series that embody the message of “hope, kindness, and positivity.”
New works from chairs and stools were made into art pieces as a representation to support mental health awareness, and to battle the stigma surrounding it.
The project is also for the benefit of the Met and selected mental health advocacy groups namely: Anxiety and Depression Support Philippines, Buhay Movement, Silakbo, and #MentalHealthPh.
There are those who maintained the function of the chairs; some opted to get more creative and transformed it into a completely different work of art. There are also who interpreted the chairs a little differently—creating a sketch out of the chair’ burnt wood, for example.
“The chair becomes a symbol by the artist for accommodation. When we offer a chair, it's a sign that we honor the humanity of the person. It's a sign that we welcome the person, and it’s a sign that we are willing to give our time to and attention to the person,” exhibit curator Ricky Francisco said.
VAHHFI believes mental fitness is part of our total well-being. It should be part of our routine to take care of our mental health, as much as we are conscious of our physical body. And art can be a way towards healing.
Chapter 2: The Empty Chair Project runs from November 12, 2019 to January 31, 2020.