Mental Health Art Exhibit

The Ohlone Student Health Center is committed to de-stigmatizing Mental Health issues by supporting our students’ mental states and physical wellness. All over the world, there is trouble seeing mental health issues as an inhibiting factor to our wellbeing. Stigmatization of mental health can further perpetuate mental illnesses and general feelings of isolation and anxiety. 

This Art Exhibit displays artworks that convey the differentiating feelings of students pertaining to their mental health experiences. The main focus is to create a tangible and common connection to one another as a support system, a community. Hopefully these artworks can relay hope and a light at the end of a tunnel for those who may be struggling or can relate to them.

At the end of the gallery, feel free to tell us what you think and connect with others. Let your peers know which piece of art spoke to you the most or which one you thought looked the best. Then, take a look at what your peers have to say and join in on a conversation.

Erica Fernandez

Name: Role Model

Medium: Poem

Dimensions: 8.5 x 12 in.

Description: “A digital art piece about my own experience with mental health issues such as trauma, codependency, and depression.”

Relevant Subject: Trauma, codependency, depression


Life has its way of knocking you down. You may feel like you’re always losing. Or that things are constantly being taken away from you. Life just seems to have a knack of hurdling all sorts of things from you.

    For years, I have dealt with emotional and verbal abuse, depression, and anxiety. I was constantly picked on for my “unsatisfactory” academic performance, constantly compared to other children or my cousins who graduated from Berkeley or its equivalent. I was even starved for not reaching those expectations. At one point I ran away from home late at night and didn’t come back until 4 am.

As a result, my physical and mental health immensely deteriorated and I soon found myself falling apart; withering away.

Every day became a fight against myself and for myself… and it still is.

    I’ve been a grown-up as long as I can remember. I don’t know when, but I started to put on a fictitious smile. I immersed myself in photography, drawing, club and volunteer work. I was desperately trying to distract myself and save others in the hope of preventing the same thing happening to them. I actually found solace in that; it’s actually my passion. However, while I was so busy saving others, I forgot to do the same for myself. Instead of living, I was surviving.

    Though, there were sunny days too. I do have a chosen family; people who accept me in my entirety. People who will only and always raise me up. “Home” was a deafening imprisonment, but somehow in that chaos, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Through clubs, I experienced immense satisfaction of investing in my community. Through classes, I sparked my curiosity to learn. Finally, as a former Wellness Ambassador, I strengthened my resolve to be involved in my community through the work I did. 

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that the sun can rise again. You can walk through hell through and back, victorious each and every time. You can find that spark that triggers the adrenaline of living life for yourself. I hope you find that your imperfections are beautiful. I hope that you embrace the simplest things in life. 

So go fill those blank pages of your story with timeless memories, life is too short for “What ifs” and “I should haves.” You can be the author of your own story, just as I have. Now, it’s your turn.

Sharon Ng

Name: A Factitious Smile

Medium: Watercolor & Drawing

Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 in.

Jeanne Bauer

Name: Conversation & Crunch

Medium: Ceramic

Dimensions: 10 x 12 x 9

Description: Conversation  and Crunch portrays  depression, how we sometimes appear or feel  so normal, with conversations going on behind closed eyes, soft pastels, smooth surfaces … and when a crisis strikes … it becomes like the little Crunch. The world in smaller and rough and jagged. But hopefully even little Crunch is endearing and we can learn from moments of challenge.

Name: Praying Scorpion

Medium: Ceramic

Dimensions: 3 x 4 x 6

Description: Praying Scorpion appears so wise, so serene but  with a stinger. As part scorpion and part praying mantis can scare ourselves or others.. Anxiety is like this. We have so many coping strategies including prayer and wearing the right outfit but nothing changes the fact we are a Praying Scorpion and that is okay.

Michael Jones

Name: The Incredulity of Saint Thomas

Medium: Photoshopped Photograph

Dimensions: 16 x 22

Description: A depiction of pure desperation, based on the famous painting

Name: In The Box

Medium: Color Pencil and Ink Drawing on Watercolor Paper

Dimensions: 7 x 9

Description: A fragmented look into the mind of the typical consumer lost in a world of brands names.

Name: The Beheading of the Family Man

Medium: Photoshopped Photograph

Dimensions: 16 x 22

Description: Showing the sacrifice that comes with being a father and going to school.

Name: The Worker

Medium: Photoshopped Photograph

Dimensions: 16 x 22

Description: Growing old while trying to complete work for class. Based on work by Caravaggio.

Name: Wars of the Future

Medium: Color Pencil and Ink on Watercolor Paper

Dimensions: 16 x 20

Description: A depiction of the world destroying itself through modernism.

Rosefina Gao

Name: Lust For Life

Medium: Oil Painting on Canvas

Dimensions: 15 x 20

Description: Growing up, I was restrained from doing many things I saw others were able to do. My parents divorced right after I was born, and I live with my mom. As a kid, I barely got to see her, because she was almost never home. I felt so alone without any of my parents around. My mom was also extremely strict. I was restricted from doing many things. This would result in fights between my mom and I. All this had made me depressed, and I couldn’t focus on anything else except my troubles. I was almost never allowed to go outside. I would always see others around me hanging out with friends, but I was not allowed to. I was also not allowed to use any electronic devices unless it was for homework. I felt like I had no connection to the outside world. I was also not allowed to get piercings, tattoos, dye my hair, or even paint my nails. I always thought that these were normal teenager things. Out of those things, I wanted to dye my hair the most. Even now at the age of 20, my mom still does not let me do these things. This self portrait represents my struggles and personal wants. There are many things in my life I am unable to control because of the restrictions my mom puts on me, like the color of my hair. I have virgin hair, and my actual hair color is black. In this painting, I gave myself pinkish hair, because although I can’t control the hair color I have in real life, I at least can in a painting.

Name: Girl Before A Mirror

Medium: Cardboard

Dimensions: 15 x 20


This is a cardboard project I have done in my 3D design class at Ohlone College.
The task was to find an artwork that we liked and then replicate it by using cardboard. The final outcome of the piece had to be identifiable. I chose to make my cardboard project of the painting “Girl Before a Mirror” by Pablo Picassco. In his painting, there is a girl on the right side looking at a mirror. The girl is supposed to represent Picassco’s lover, who was insecure about her looks. On the left side, there is a mirror showing a reflection that does not look like the girl at all. This can be seen replicated on my cardboard project. This is happening because people often compare themselves to others and think that they do not look good. People look in a mirror and start hating on what they think are flaws. They see their perfections as imperfections and create a negative image of themselves that doesn’t exist. Picasso’s painting symbolizes these insecurities. Just like the girl in the cardboard project, many people see the negative side of themselves in the mirror, when in reality nothing is bad looking about them at all.

Name: Broken Heart Tree

Medium: Adobe Illustrator

Dimensions: 10 x 10


We come into this world innocently without knowing pain. Then we meet people
and our whole lives can change. Trees are symbolisms for life and growth. The experiences people have shape them who they are today. Just like a tree growing from its roots, our hearts can grow bigger with love. I have made one of the tree’s roots connect to a heart. As the tree grows, it branches out, just like we do when we meet new people. We form new connections as the days go by, but some people we meet don’t always stay in our lives. From family members, friends, significant others, and more, we can never predict who will be leaving us one day. So when they do, we are left sad and heartbroken. Once a pure and innocent heart, we then will know what it is like to hurt. We will feel pain, sorrow, and maybe regret. That’s what the broken heart leaves in this artwork represents. This tree has many broken heart leaves, because many people have left me in my life. I have had my heart broken so many times in so many ways. However, just like a tree’s leaves fall off, it will no longer be of use to the tree. So when the broken hearts fall off, that’s when we know we have moved on. No matter how many people have hurt us in our life, we will always heal with time. Pain that is given to us will help us grow stronger and resilient.

Name: Our Relationship

Medium: Poem

Julie Navarro

Name: Leaving Space

Medium: Pen

Dimensions: 8.5 x 11

Description: Zen doodling has brought me a level of awareness to my surroundings, looking for patterns that I want to recreate, and my need/desire/instinct to ‘fill’ every space (in my art, life, purse!).  The colorful/full page piece was done a few years ago, and the second was more recently after much thought/consideration on leaving ‘space’ in my life and becoming comfortable with it.

  1. The art work is fantastic. It speaks volumes of words that are unsaid. Great work.

  2. Love all of the pieces! They all feel really honest. Thank you for creating a safe space for students.

Please share your comments on any of the posts between now and the end of Spring Semester 2020 for a chance to win a giftcard in our opportunity drawing.

Join the Conversation


  1. Love all of the pieces! They all feel really honest. Thank you for creating a safe space for students.

  2. Really loved all of the art work! I feel that this was a great way to show and let your true feels out. I really liked that students opened up. This is Healthy for the Mind and Soul! Awesome job !

  3. The art work is fantastic. It speaks volumes of words that are unsaid.
    Great work.

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