Akron – An interactive exhibition features artwork by local students and explores the complexities of mental health.

Child Guidance & Family Solutions (CG&FS) has collaborated with Miller South School for the Visual & Performing Arts to harness students’ creativity in understanding mental health. Students in the Visual Art program created portraits and self-portraits addressing the concept that "There Is No Health without Mental Health" – that physical health and mental health are inter-connected for well-being.

The culmination of this partnership is an exhibition of the art at Akrona Galleries in Akron. The public is invited to attend the opening reception on Friday, June 13 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and enjoy music and refreshments. The exhibition will remain in the gallery through Thursday, June 26, 2014.

The show is themed "I am more than what you see." A special aspect of the exhibition is its interactive nature, giving attendees the opportunity to share their thoughts, illustrations, and stories as inspired by the show’s theme, i.e. revealing one’s self beyond the physical. Space for comments and drawings will be provided alongside the artwork. The large window in the main gallery will also be used as a canvas.

Students at Miller South collaborated on a communications campaign to promote the impact CG&FS has on the community. (A significant part of CG&FS’s services are administered within the school setting and provided to school-age children.) The students were asked to reflect on the issues of bullying, elevated expectations, peer pressure, substance abuse, dislocation, divorce, and suicide, as well as the emotions that result: depression, anxiety, lethargy, loneliness, etc. They chose different ways to illustrate the face of a young person, with some using their own faces. The finished pieces have been used in a photograph in which the students hold their art so that it becomes their "face."

According to Judith Fowler, Vice President – Institutional Advancement at CG&FS, the artwork and photographs will be used to increase awareness of a healthy child being both physically and mentally or emotionally healthy, and to promote CG&FS and its 75th Anniversary.

Alison Rich, Art Teacher at Miller South School for the Visual & Performing Arts, says: "Our Visual Art students were excited to participate in this opportunity. Knowing that their art would be seen throughout the community and might inspire a young person to seek counseling was a powerful inspiration to them."

AKRONA Galleries is a full service art gallery located in the historic Ayres Estate at 1765 W. Market St. in Akron. Miller South offers in-depth study in five arts areas – visual art, vocal and instrumental music, dance and drama.