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Painting student Sarah Mabry presents exhibition on mental health

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Written by Jordan Petteys, photos by Jordan Petteys and Kendra Frankle

On Feb. 22, Senior painting student Sarah Mabry held her exhibition, “I Don’t Mind” at Sulfur Studios. The base for each piece was an image of the cellular structure of a disease that someone in Mabry’s family had been affected by or passed away from. “It’s really interesting when you look up the structures or the diseases under a microscope, all the images are hot pink and super bright––which is weird because its so ugly but it looks so beautiful,” Mabry said. In her words, the body of work used bright colors to create a metaphor for false positivity.

Mabry took the basis of the cellular structure for each disease and combined them with images of her paintings to create a non-objective piece. As a design choice, Mabry placed the work on 36 by 36 inch squares to mimic a scan under a microscope. “People cover up things with humor and positivity. It was a way to cope and heal,” Mabry said.

The body of work started taking formation two years ago when Mabry lost her dad to leukemia. Since then, a number of Mabry’s family members have been diagnosed with different illnesses. “A lot of my family who the images are about will be at the show tomorrow, so it’ll be really cool,” Mabry said the day before her exhibition.

Mabry discussed the way her mental health has affected her college experience, “It started sophomore year during finals. I went to the funeral, came back, did my finals and the quarter ended. I pretended that nothing was happening and dove into my work which is super harmful to your mental health,” Mabry said.

Mabry’s collection, “I Don’t Mind,” served as an avenue for healing. Her artistic choices allowed her to express the way she coped with tribulation in her family.