Columbus, Ohio, USA

Coping Mechanisms: Art at the Intersection of Racism and Mental Health

Co-curated with Michael Coppage
Bridge Gallery: Columbus, Ohio, July 9 – August 16, 2021
Other locations forthcoming

Coping Mechanisms takes place as America begins to reckon with its systemic racism, something that became especially blatant in 2020 – not only with the murders of George Floyd and other Black Americans, but in the devastating and disproportionate toll of the coronavirus pandemic. According to the CDC in May 2021, Black people are nearly twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as white people in America, and Latino, Hispanic, and Indigenous people are nearly two and a half times as likely. These and other stark disparities point not only to the inadequate healthcare access that has long burdened communities of color, but to the stressors and inequities that regularly contribute to distress, poor health, and vulnerability. It points to racism as its own pandemic, one that impacts mental, and in turn physical, well-being.

When data and statistics like these are difficult to grasp, art can provide a point of entry. In collaboration with Cincinnati artist and activist Michael Coppage, who works in the behavioral health field, Fresh A.I.R. Gallery curated the works of eight artists whose art addresses the intersection of racism and mental health on a personal, human level. Through photography, video, painting, and sculpture, the exhibit addresses issues such as dehumanization, intergenerational trauma, and the cumulative mental effects of microaggressions and biased language. It also invites visitors to engage with these sources of mental duress and begin the work of dismantling them.