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LSUS students submit art, literary work for mental health exhibit

LSUS students and faculty gather to view artwork exhibited throughout the month of October.

SHREVEPORT – “The darkest nights produce the brightest stars.”

That was a message on one of the pieces of art displayed Wednesday as part of the Resilience Through Dark Times exhibit on the third floor of the Noel Memorial Library.

The exhibit is a collection of essays, poems, paintings, and drawings that detail how LSUS students persevered through difficult life circumstances. The exhibit, a collaboration between LSUS Counseling Services and the student organization Active Minds, collected and displayed 47 pieces from both face-to-face and online students.

“We wanted to make this project accessible to all of our students so they could feel connected,” said Kendal Redel, director of LSUS Counseling Services. “We think it came together beautifully, and the submissions surpassed our expectations because students bared their souls. The whole point of this exhibit is for students to know that they are not alone and to see how other students made it through their dark moments.”

The submission topics ranged from coping with the loss of parents and siblings, divorce, overcoming drug abuse, surviving injuries, and processing suicidal thoughts.

Most works were submitted anonymously. One woman moved to Montana to live with a friend after her divorce, but that friend borrowed money with no intention of repayment and eventually kicked the woman out of her house. The woman lived in her car with her cat Buster while working part-time in fast food. She drove her car to the highest point in the community with the intention of driving off the cliff before Buster started licking her tears just before she punched the accelerator. That was 15 years ago, and the woman is currently pursuing her Master of Business Administration degree at LSUS at the age of 55.

A poet named “J” wrote about his demons and how he could choose one of two paths – demise or solace. “The process of writing poetry helped me understand and regulate my emotions by expressing them through art,” J wrote in a note accompanying his poem. “Putting the feelings I had been experiencing for months into words allowed me to better understand myself. Writing this poem got my emotions out from the clutter and helped keep me alive. It helped me recognize that the path of demise does exist … but my work has helped me choose the path of solace. That has allowed me to blossom and resiliently share my experiences.”

Another student’s father died by suicide in her senior year of high school, and when she was sexually assaulted at a college in Arkansas, she too contemplated ending her life.

Her advice to others is to feel every emotion you have, then pick yourself up and keep fighting.

A camping enthusiast painted a campfire against the backdrop of a dark, starry night, explaining that the campfire provides light and warmth against the seemingly unending darkness. “I loved all the diverse submissions we received,” said Tiffany Robinson, president of Active Minds and senior business major. “This is an inclusive exhibit but also showcases students’ different perspectives.

“You see how students made it through their dark times and how they stayed strong.”

Students who experienced the live exhibit Wednesday were treated to an art gallery experience complete with hors d’oeuvres and sparking grape juice.

The exhibit will live on the first floor of the library for the rest of October.

Counseling Services will also highlight select pieces each week digitally on the department’s Instagram page @lsuscounselingservices.

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