Klein College advertising students Emily Street and Sabina Evans were recently featured at the Represent Exhibition, a student design event held by the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). The poster series they created is titled "Suffering in Silence," and aims to reach people with undiagnosed mental illnesses to encourage them to seek help.
"We want people who know they have a mental disorder to speak out and know that they are not alone, and there are many people who have the same struggles they are facing every day," Street said.
AIGA is the nation's largest professional design organization, with over 25,000 members. The organization advocates for the appreciation of design and designers in the workforce, provides members with professional development resources and boasts a stacked calendar of events nationwide exhibiting the work of design professionals, both members and non-members.
The student work at Represent was chosen by faculty from the design departments of several Philadelphia colleges and universities. The pieces covered a range of different themes; Street and Evans chose mental illness because they felt it wasn't discussed enough.
"Mental health is a very important part of one's well-being," said Evans.
Their involvement in this project began in their Art Direction 1 class where students were assigned an open-ended project. Students were asked to create a piece about an issue they thought was important and needed more social attention. It didn't take long for Street and Evans to choose mental illness as their topic. They said they drew from their own personal experiences to find a topic with which many college students could identify.
"We are so bombarded with school work and outside activities that sometimes it is hard to have a clear mind," Evans said.
Evans and Street used charcoal to create their work with large, bold strokes. They included written words in the pieces, which they claim was inspired by the work of James Victore, an Emmy-winning artist.
"[M]ental health is a subject that is often silenced, so we wanted this piece to be loud," said Street. "We wanted it to feel like the person with the disorder was the one creating the artwork."
The series of posters focused on three different disorders: anxiety, body dysmorphia and depression. These are especially common in young people, being diagnosed at higher rates each year as knowledge of mental health issues increases.
"In many cases, students may know their peer has a mental disorder but doesn't know exactly how to help or even if they should intervene at all," Street said. "It's important to help them seek help, and help them find someone they trust to talk to."