Mental health is a constant struggle for many individuals, filled with both highs and lows. The Charlotte Art League is launching a new exhibit called “Thrive” on Friday, Sept. 9 that aims to capture this journey. Local artist Tristan Safonov is one of the creators of the show, which combines art and empathy to explore the various facets of mental health. The exhibit showcases the work of 12 local artists, including Safonov, who utilized different methods and materials. Safonov discusses the exhibit and his motivation for placing mental health at its core in a conversation with WFAE’s Nick de la Canal.
As an artist himself, Safonov recognizes the importance of mental health within the artistic community. He believes that this topic is often overlooked and needs to be openly discussed. With the exhibit, Safonov aims to present contrasting perspectives on mental health, highlighting both thriving and non-thriving experiences. He emphasizes that imperfections are part of life and it is okay to have them.
De la Canal raises the point that artistic activities such as painting, singing, and making music can significantly improve mental well-being. Safonov agrees, stating that he personally found therapy through painting. It became a means for him to express his thoughts and struggles, as he realized that painting was the best way for him to communicate his feelings. While some individuals may use sound or other forms of expression, for Safonov, it is painting.
The conversation shifts to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health. Safonov shares that he began painting during the pandemic, using his newfound free time to explore art. He believes that many others experienced mental health issues during this time and turned to hobbies like painting. Safonov believes that the show has roots in both mental health and the pandemic, as people searched for ways to be creative and make positive changes in their lives.
De la Canal inquires about the difficulty of displaying deeply personal artwork for the public to critique and judge. Safonov acknowledges that it can be challenging, but it ultimately depends on the artist. Some individuals create personal pieces purely for their own satisfaction, while others decide to exhibit them. Safonov admits that there are certain things he would never paint because they are too personal to him. However, he does not have an issue with showing personal pieces to the public.
The conversation concludes with a discussion of Safonov’s hopes for the exhibit’s impact. He wants people to recognize that mental health issues exist and that there are individuals who understand and can identify with their struggles. Safonov also wants to convey the message that while life can be difficult, there is hope for a brighter future. The exhibit “Thrive” will be on display at the Charlotte Art League from Sept. 9 to 30.