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A Management 100 Team hosted an art exhibit in partnership with with local nonprofit CareLink on Tuesday night. The exhibit "Behind The Eyes" aimed to destigmatize mental health by showcasing artwork by CareLink artists.

Credit: Sue Roy

One Management 100 team is out to destigmatize mental health, one artwork at a time.

Team iCare has been working with CareLink, a nonprofit that provides those with mental illness in Southeast Pennsylvania and South New Jersey an alternative to hospital care. On Tuesday night, the group opened an art exhibit in Claudia Cohen Hall called “Beyond the Eyes: Art Exhibition and Sale,” an event that featured the work of CareLink clients.

“We try to organize art activities for our clients because of their illnesses; they may not have gotten the same opportunities for doing art as the rest of us,” Eileen Joseph, the president and CEO of CareLink said. “Many of them create works with the goal of showing. It is self-fulling to recognize their work has greater value when someone other than family sees it.”

This is the seventh year CareLink has worked with Wharton students, the third of which involved putting on an art show. This year’s show will remain in Cohen Hall through Nov. 28.

Wharton freshman Victoria Brown, one of the 10 members on Team iCare, said her team was drawn to CareLink since the project allowed them to use creative and logistical skills in the project and for the cause itself.

“With the art exhibit, people are forced to see that even though you are diagnosed with mental illness, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be a great artist or a great human being outside of that,” Brown said. “People kind of tend to see people who are diagnosed with mental illness as just their illness. So what this is going to do is say yes, they have a mental illness but look at the beautiful art they can also create.”

More than 50 CareLink clients submitted pieces to feature in the show, with a total of 90 works now on display, Joseph said. Ranging from painting to drawings to glass, some of the pieces were created in CareLink’s workshops, which are funded through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Others, like artist Robert Wentzel’s photographs, were created outside the organization. Wentzel said he has been taking photos for 30 years, working professionally for 10.

“I remember sitting in the car as a kid, looking out the window and thinking, ‘That would be a cool photo,’” Wentzel said. “Behind the camera is my happy place.”

Though Wentzel is used to showing his work, he said he was excited for other CareLink artists see their work on display. He added that he saw some of the artists’ eyes light up when their work was shown. Viewers were equally impressed with the show.

“I’m super art illiterate, but art is something everyone can enjoy. It brings people together for a good cause,” College freshman Emilio Frayre said.

Following the reception in the gallery, Phyllis Solomon, who is a professor at the School of Social Policy & Practice, and members of the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services in Philadelphia spoke about the role of art in addressing mental health.

“Exhibits like these really demonstrate recovery to me,” Solomon said. “Art gives you a way to express yourself.”

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