Children’s Portrayal of Adult Mental Wellness

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An exhibition titled “Voices in Color: An Intergenerational Dialogue” kicked off in October 2023 in Changsha, Hunan Province, China. This exhibition delves into the realm of adult mental health and children’s understanding of psychological well-being. Organized by A Perch for the Thornbirds from Shanghai and Studio Yixin from Changsha, with venue support from Bang Space, this event is a significant addition to the local community’s cultural and artistic landscape. Changsha, a major city in central-southern China, lacks the diversity of mental health cultural and artistic activities compared to the more developed southeastern coastal regions. This exhibition serves as a vital supplement to such endeavors within the local community.

This groundbreaking exhibition serves as a platform for intergenerational dialogue, where children breathe life into the emotional narratives of adults through the vibrant medium of art. Six months in the making, this project began with a bold outreach to adults in China, soliciting their diverse experiences and descriptions of emotions. The ensuing task for children was to reinterpret these emotions, offering a fresh perspective shaped by their own boundless creativity.

The genesis of “Voices in Color” stemmed from a profound observation: many adults grapple with emotions they find challenging to articulate, fostering a sense of isolation even amidst social connectivity. By harnessing the imaginative prowess of children, this initiative seeks to illuminate the hidden contours of adult emotions, fostering empathy and understanding.

A child artist participating in the exhibition said, “I painted a child standing on top of a house and a cat flying up to the sky. I feel they are very brave, and I hope this courage can also be conveyed to those in need.” An attendee at the exhibition remarked, “Thank you to all the young artists. It’s been a long time since I’ve been out to see so much color.”

The audience at the exhibition includes not only children and their parents but also individuals with mental disabilities, social workers, teachers, and psychiatrists. This exhibition provides a rare opportunity for open discussions on mental health for everyone.

Morty Chen

Morty is the director of the NGO A Perch for the Thornbirds, which focuses on mental health and art. With nine years of experience in the field of mental health, she is dedicated to integrating reflections from humanities and social sciences into mental health practices through artistic forms.


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