Art and Mental Health
About The Program
The Columbia-WHO Center for Global Mental Health is committed to partnering with artists to work toward shared goals of challenging the stigma of mental illness, elevating the voices of individuals with lived experiences, and improving the quality of mental health care worldwide.
Since 2019, the Columbia-WHO Center for Global Mental Health has been collaborating with artists with lived experiences to enhance the Global Mental Health Academy (GMHA), an online platform to train clinicians around the world on the ICD-11 diagnostic guidelines for Mental, Behavioural, and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. As such, we are deeply grateful for these individuals who have shared their creative talents and experiences to improve the quality of the GMHA training materials.
In developing the GMHA training modules, we worked with independent artists as well as artists affiliated with the Fountain House Gallery. Please see below to learn more about these artists, listed in alphabetical order.
The works of artists in the Fountain House community are currently on exhibition at the Fountain House Gallery Artsy page. Several artists also have individual websites, and their work can be viewed in the links included below.
Azure, a primarily self-taught artist, began making collages and abstract drawings in the 1970s. She majored in voice and piano at the High School of Music and Art, but it was a Fine Arts course at Syracuse University that spurred her love of art and led her to take painting courses at the Art Students League and the School of Visual Arts, and a photography class at The New School. Azure works principally in the medium of collage; she is attracted by a variety of elements – metal, wire, wood, images on printed material, nature – and by discovering the surprise in the shape, color and texture of “found objects” that inspire her to create. Her pieces reflect our time, connect her with other artists, and reveal aspects of herself that might otherwise remain hidden. Says Azure, “A found object, which to me is a gift from the universe, can remain something wonderful on its own – something to cherish and meditate on for the day or longer.” She was one of four artists spotlighted in the Fountain Gallery exhibition Collaged Realities.
Azure’s art is featured in Unit 6: Obsessive-Compulsive or Related Disorders on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.
Ann is a collage artist living and working in New York City. Her collages often function as a dream might – an expression of emotion interlaced with experience, but in a context removed from reality. Ann works by collecting images from used auction catalogues, magazines, and newspapers. These images are later combined, often with other media, to form a collage that projects a visual representation of her internal world. Ann’s work is for sale and can be seen on her website.
Ann’s art is featured in Unit 3: Schizophrenia or Other Primary Psychotic Disorders on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.
A fashion and costume designer, Guiomar holds a BA in Fashion Design from Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). She was selected to show her designs at the IDENTITIES fashion show at Harvard University and has received commissions to create custom-made gowns. As a painter, she works primarily in oil and acrylic, and on occasion in watercolor. Guiomar has a facility for figurative subjects such as portraits and landscapes and would like to take on the challenge of making abstract works. Guiomar’s work can be found on her website.
Guiomar’s art is featured in Unit 10: Feeding or Eating Disorders on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.
Roger’s preferred subject matter for his acrylic paintings includes scenes of New York City and its people, and representations of nature. He studied painting and book arts such as bookbinding via programs at the organization Community Access and cites the works of Picasso as an ongoing source of inspiration. Roger also creates jewelry pieces and offers them for sale at local bazaars. His work has been featured in a group show at White Columns.
Roger’s art is featured in Unit 13: Disorders Due to Addictive Behaviours and Impulse Control Disorder on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.
Gary’s body of work includes paintings in the abstract style as well as landscapes and portraits. His pieces have been shown at numerous New York City venues, including Frieze Art Fair, Queens Museum, and HAI, where he was a longtime participant in the Studio program. Gary studied at Boston Architecture College and served as a consultant in urban planning for the city of Boston. He was involved in early brainstorming sessions for the project that culminated in establishing New York City’s High Line.
Gary’s art is featured in Unit 4: Mood Disorders on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.
A self-described “artist of many styles,” Barry works in mediums ranging from drawing and painting to sculpture and collage. He favors painting abstract landscapes in intense colors. He worked for many years as a jewelry designer, creating designs as well as producing molds and models for casting. Barry’s formal art education was through School of Visual Arts, and he has also studied at the Center for the Media Arts and Pels School of Commercial Art. His work was featured in the Fountain House Gallery two-person show Urban Faces.
Barry’s art is featured in Unit 6: Obsessive-Compulsive or Related Disorders on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.
Gail is a self-taught artist who works primarily in oil and colored pencil. She also has skills in photography and writing and has dabbled in the theatre. Her pieces were featured in a two-person exhibit at the corporate headquarters of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. in New York City, and her artwork was honored with an award from the Haym Salomon Foundation. Gail has conducted workshops in color therapy, and she founded a supported housing program to serve people with mental illness. At Fountain House Gallery she shared a two-person show, Serendipitous, with Nelia Gibbs and was one of the artists featured in the exhibition 4 Women 4 Voices 4 Visions. Says Gail, “I am so grateful to have been given the gift to create art. It never ceases to amaze me that when I touch brush to canvas, magic happens.”
Gail’s art is featured in Unit 5: Anxiety or Fear-Related Disorders on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.
A self-taught artist, Susan is also an actor, writer, and filmmaker. She performs under the stage name Shyla Idris. Her work is autobiographical, commenting on her experience in the mental health system as well as touching upon racial issues and other areas of social injustice. Susan works in acrylic and mixed media from small to large unframed work, including body prints, collage, and painting on found objects. Her work was shown in the City Arts exhibit in Nottingham, marking the first time pieces by an artist working outside the UK were selected for inclusion. Susan’s work can be found on her website.
Susan’s art is featured in Unit 4: Mood Disorders on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.
Greg has had no formal art training. He uses watercolor and acrylic as a base medium and incorporates into his work elements of mixed media – metal, newsprint, and found objects. An accomplished poet, Greg is currently majoring in English literature and creative writing at City College. His artwork reflects the manner in which he experiences life in New York City, and as a New Yorker abroad.
Greg’s art is featured in Unit 4: Mood Disorders on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.
Carlos Runcie Tanaka
A one-time philosophy major at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Carlos Runcie Tanaka studied ceramics in Brazil, Italy, and Japan. He has held individual and collective exhibitions, representing Peru in eight major exhibitions in Peru, Brazil, Chile, and Spain from 1991 to 2019. His work is in public and private collections such as the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Art Museum of the Americas, World Bank Art Collection, Inter-American Development Bank Art Collection in the US and the Museo de Arte de Lima, Museo de Arte de San Marcos, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Arequipa in Peru. Carlos’ work can be found on his website.
Carlos’ art is featured in Unit 7: Disorders Specifically Associated with Stress on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.
After a successful 35-year career in theatre, Robin found a new creative outlet in sculpting and painting. Her theatrical experiences serve as an inspiration for her work, much of which expresses her frustration at being a hard-of-hearing person navigating hearing and deaf realities. Robin has worked in a variety of sculpting mediums, including bronze, steel, wire mesh, acrylic and clay, and in each she pays meticulous attention to surface, contour, and texture. “Texture” is also a hallmark of Robin’s mixed-media paintings, in which she incorporates found objects such as buttons, zippers and wire. Robin has shown her work in more than 15 group shows and in two solo shows on the theme of deafness. She was awarded 2nd Place in the Second Annual Juried De’VIA Competition and Exhibit, and she has exhibited in the National Touring Exhibition of Deaf Culture Art. Her work has been presented at the Outsider Art Fair. The Final Bow, Robin’s five-foot-tall, 600-pound bronze and copper sculpture, is on view at Fountain House.
Robin’s art is featured in Unit 4: Mood Disorders on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.
Maura received a BA in Visual Arts with a concentration in Photography from Fordham College at Lincoln Center. She furthered her education at premier art schools including San Francisco Art Institute, California College of Art, and School of Visual Arts. Maura’s work is autobiographical, focusing on her lifelong battle with mania – illuminating the struggles and celebrating the triumphs. She executes each work in the medium best suited to its theme and subject matter. Of late she has moved from shooting photographs to conceptualizing and art directing photographs in which she often appears as a subject.
Maura’s art is featured in Unit 4: Mood Disorders on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.
Laura Anne Walker
A native New Yorker, Laura Anne began drawing at age three. Her preferred mediums are ink and graphite. Her pieces have been shown in more than 50 group exhibitions, and in a solo show of 60 works in SoHo. Laura Anne’s work has been published in a number of online and print publications, including Raw Vision and Folk Art Messenger. A graduate of both Cornell University and the Bank Street College of Education, Laura Anne is a permanently certified, permanently licensed former teacher. She is currently a Crisis Intervention Team panelist, serving as a liaison between the police and people who are experiencing emotional distress. Says Laura Anne, “For any awards or honors I have received, I thank my muses – the cats that have graced my life.”
Laura’s art is featured in Unit 14: Personality Disorders and Related Traits on the Global Mental Health Academy online training platform.