Attendees at the opening of the art show look at the displayed artwork
News Story

School of Health’s Global Mental Health and Well-Being Initiative Builds Community with Art

Top Image: Students, faculty and staff gathered in St. Mary’s Hall on April 25 for a reception for “From Ill-Being to Well-Being and the Liminal States In-Between: Art Exhibit.”

(May 11, 2024) — Students, faculty and staff gathered in St. Mary’s Hall to celebrate “From Ill-Being to Well-Being and the Liminal States In-Between: Art Exhibit,” a student-centered, semester-long multimedia art campaign intended to promote conversations about mental health presented by the School of Health’s new Global Mental Health and Well-Being Initiative.

Christopher King speaks from a podium at the art event

Christopher King, PhD, MHSc

“Through the arts, we can connect with others in the most profound ways,” said Christopher King, PhD, MHSc, dean of the School of Health, at the April 25 reception. “And we know we can be most impactful through interdisciplinary approaches, which is why I am so pleased to see this assembly of students who represent different schools and academic units across our campus enterprise.”

An interdisciplinary coalition striving to improve mental well-being locally, nationally and globally, the Global Mental Health and Well-Being Initiative grew out of a call for “big ideas” that would help shape the mission of the School of Health, said Shabab Wahid, DrPH, MPH, assistant professor of global health.

Shabab Wahid

Shabab Wahid, DrPH, MPH

“We thought that a language that transcends differences and connects everyone is art, broadly defined to include all forms of human artistic expression, as you can see in the diversity of art that’s presented in this space around you,” said Wahid, who also co-leads the Global Health & Mental Well-Being Initiative.

In addition to photography, poetry, digital art and film, the exhibit includes four paintings that reflect Jesuit values and inspire transformation and global outreach. The paintings were created by School of Health students and Sister Celeste Mokrzycki, chaplain for the School of Nursing and School of Health.

“As we gaze upon all of the creativity in this room and get amazed by not only our own creation but by someone else’s, this wonder is the beginning of an inward journey toward a higher power, toward the divine mystery,” Mokrzycki said. “Art transcends differences and unites us as we are moved, touched and even challenged by the vision and experience of the artist, with its potential to shift our perspective on what we thought we knew and understood.”

Building Community Through Art

A figurative painting depicting joy and sadness being shared

Artwork contributed by Sister Celeste Mokrzycki, chaplain for the School of Nursing and School of Health

The art campaign was co-created in partnership with Active Minds, a student group dedicated to destigmatizing mental health issues, Campus Ministry, Maker Hub, the diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism initiatives at the School of Health, and the Disability Cultural Center. Amy Kenny, PhD, director of the Disability Cultural Center, joined King and Mokrzycki as judges for the art.

“The art that we see around this room tells us stories known and unknown to us that we get to experience today together,” Kenny said. “It invites us to create new worlds where we all can co-flourish, and it invites us to understand someone else’s lived experience.”

Before organizing the campaign and exhibition, Janeeta Shaukat (H’24) believed that the pursuit of well-being was an individual endeavor. Over time, she found that her well-being was affected by global events, including the ongoing violence in Gaza that has taken more than 34,000 lives.

Five individuals, the center individual on a motorized scooter, group together

From l: Art show judges Christopher King, Sister Celeste Mokrzycki and Amy Kenny, with Shabab Wahid, and student Janeeta Shaukat (H’24)

“It’s in times like this that community events like this art campaign provide me with a glimmer of hope,” said Shaukat, a global health major and Global Health Institute fellow, who has been supporting the Global Mental Health & Well-Being Initiative since fall 2023. “They foster connection, understanding and resilience. And it’s here that we come together, authentically and fearlessly, to share where we are on the spectrum between ill-being and well-being.”

Shaukat thanked the artists for their participation in the campaign and encouraged them to connect with and support each other.

“Seeing your entries and getting to know you through your art has really inspired me and provided me with incredible support during these times, so I want to express my gratitude to you all,” she said. “It has moved me, and I know that when everyone else sees it, it will move them too.”


The judges of “From Ill-Being to Well-Being and the Liminal States In-Between: Art Exhibit” selected one piece as the most meaningful entry, awarding the artist a $500 prize, as well as five notable entries whose creators received $100 prizes.

Most Meaningful Entry

A painting depicting darkness on one side and light and rainbows on the other

“Transitions of the Psyche: Navigating the Complex Human Experience” by Marwa Katir (SFS’24)

Notable Entries

– “Fracture” by Abdul Hannan (GU-Q’25)
– Susannah Masson (C’27)
– Nicole Mathias
– Nadia Sadanandan (H’24)
– Muhammad Saad Yacoob

Article by Kat Zambon
All Images by Tyisha Henderson
GUMC Communications

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