Self-expression is a fundamental part of being human, but between meetings, deadlines, giving time to friends and family, exercising and so on *exhale*, it’s hard to dedicate a moment to express yourself in a way that is beneficial to your wellbeing, right?
In an effort to destigmatize the conversation about mental health, and to help women recognise the positive impact creativity can have on it, Nicole Crentsil, who goes by @nkrystal_ on Instagram, launched art initiative Unmasked Women.
The platform – which exists both online and as an exhibition – is set on helping women find their voices by providing a space for female artists to showcase their work and to promote empowerment, self-care, and community.
Talking to ASOS Magazine earlier this month, Crentsil described the Unmasked Women in her own words: “From my experience of mental health, and from talking about it to friends, we are all going through the same things, but we’re just not telling each other that.”
“Opening up removes stigma,” she continues, “I wanted to turn ‘me too’ into ‘us’. Unmasked Women uses art as a tool to have these conversations.”
Curated from the perspective of a woman of colour living in London, themes of home, identity, race and womanhood ripple throughout everything this creative collective touch. In fact, these issues have become the centre point around which the Unmasked Women’s first exhibition evolves: “Our first theme is mental health and wellbeing, including an in-depth exploration of Black mental health within the UK. We aim to creatively document and showcase the work of several artists whilst creating a safe and open platform for further discussion.”
Although a universal sentiment of acceptance and openness is explicit, online followers and offline exhibition visitors can expect to see a multi-faceted mix of visual interpretations of mental health.
Whether discussing creative communities, or challenging topics like race that can be oppressive or harmful to mental health, the artists behind Unmasked Women - like Crentsil - are frank. Together, they speak up about how it can manifest in them personally, and those around them, to highlight that mental health is something a lot of us live with.
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