Young artist's medium for mental health message

Young artist Maria Kerslake says her art is a medium for sharing a message about the importance of mental health. 

A Foundation Arts student of the National University of Samoa (N.U.S) Ms. Kerslake first took part in an art competition at the Mental Health Awareness Expo at the Tu'utu'uileloloto Hall. Her artwork about mental health was named the winning piece.

She told the Samoa Observer on Wednesday that she shared her message across two paintings.

"One of them has drawings of all the thought processes of being alone and having to like get into a dark place and trying to figure out whether you should be okay or whether you should not be okay and like if it affects others and if it affects yourself," Ms. Kerslake said.

"But it's mainly about how your thoughts make or break you. And it's how your mental health is important and that it also affects your physical health."

"And for my second painting I did was it has gold where the person touches, it just shows how much of a relief it is to even have someone to be there for you and like it disperses all the negative thoughts.

"Because not everyone can do your inner work for you but it's good to have someone to help you fight it."

Ms. Kerslake feels happy to be able to display her art and having to translate for those who don't know how to express themselves. 

"I'm very happy that I can do that for other people and spread awareness," she said.

"Mental health is important."

Co-owner of the Manamea Art Studio Lalovai Peseta told the Samoa Observer on Wednesday that art is a medicine 

"Because doing art we use our brains, we use our minds to come up with ideas," he said.

"Most of the time when we make art, we always stress about our surroundings, so we use art as an escape instead of doing bad things we just put it on a canvas, create an artwork based on how we feel.

"So we look at art as a medicine for us, for anybody. if you're not an artist you can also if you have stress you're not feeling good, once you look at some kind of art, your mind will change, you have a different feeling about it."

Mr. Peseta was the judge of the art competition for the Mental Health Awareness Expo, and he had chosen Ms. Kerslake's artwork as the winner.

He says that, as an artist, presentation is very important that Ms. Kerslake's conveys her important message.

"Presentation is why I chose her. And her artistic skill is at the next level. She's a student but I can tell she's gonna go all the way if she keeps doing it," he said.

Mr. Peseta said that if you feel stress and do not know what to do then just scribble something. 

"It will take out how you feel, put it somewhere else instead of keeping it in your head," he said.

"And even if you can't express yourself, if you're not feeling good, you just go look at somebody's artwork and what he's trying to say, and then you have that conversation with art.”

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