By Jessica Mathews /

An upcoming art exhibit aims to give the community a better understanding of what local youth are experiencing when it comes to mental health – and organizers say they have much to share related to their perceptions and experiences.

The Hive Youth and Teen Center is hosting the Youth Art Voice Exhibit on Saturday, March 12th and the public is invited to attend and support local youth who have found their voices using art.

Youth Art Voice encourages youth to explore and communicate what mental health means from their unique viewpoints and experiences. Art, in various forms, including photos, sculptures, drawings, paintings, poems, and music, is being used by youth as a way of expressing themselves around the important topic.

It’s sponsored by The Livingston COMMUNITY PREVENTION Project and the Livingston County Community Alliance.

A press release states Youth Art Voice is about more than creating art as youth participated in a process of reflection around mental health - they had dialogue with others about their artwork; explaining why they created it, sharing what it means, and discussed common themes that emerged.

Local Prevention Specialist and Therapist Karen Bergbower says the hope is that the community gains a better understanding of what youth are experiencing - especially when they’ve seen increased substance use, isolation, and other mental health needs related to the pandemic.

With the focus on mental health, it was cautioned the art content could be triggering or difficult for some people but it was stated that youth were encouraged to freely express themselves. Director of Prevention at Key Development Center Lisa Boschma commented “Their experiences with mental health are real and deserve a place to be viewed and discussed, regardless of content”.

One youth reported her participation in the Youth Art Voice helped her realize how far she has come in her travels with mental health. She shared, “I take natural pictures of myself and draw them all colorful and pretty and it really helps me see my body and myself in a different light and love me for me. It really has helped with my body dysmorphia over time. I still see something different in the mirror, but it helps me see my true self and it also allows me to be creative”.

The public is invited to browse the Youth Art Voice Exhibit and collection anytime between noon and 3pm on Saturday, March 12th at The Hive Youth and Teen Center at 925 W. Grand River in Howell. The exhibit is free.

More information is available in the attached release and flyer.