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New Festival Starts Conversation about Mental Health Through Art

A group of Emerson undergraduate students trying to raise awareness about mental health and illness has organized Project WOW, an arts festival aimed at reminding people that no one need suffer alone.

Project WOW, which will be held on Sunday, April 9, will feature musical performances, poetry, monologues, fine art, soundscapes, and photography. Twenty students are scheduled to perform at the event, and seven students will showcase their fine art at 7:00 pm, on the second floor of the Walker Building.

Suzie Hicks ’18, creator and executive producer of Project WOW, conceived the idea last semester but spent most of the time planning and talking to friends and faculty before taking the leap to organize the event this semester.

“As artists, it is important for us to express what we are feeling through art. We are also a community of people that is heavily affected by mental health. This event is marrying the [importance] of getting help through the inspiration of art,” said Hicks, an Entertainment Business Leadership major, who later brought on her friend Abbie Penfield-Cyr ’18, a Political Communication major, as the associate producer for the event.

The participating students feel that Project WOW will create a sense of community within Emerson over mental health, encouraging students to seek the necessary help and not to give up hope, even in the darkest times.

“When I came to Emerson, I always thought there [should] be an organization like this (Project WOW), but there never was. So, I always hoped that such a community would exist,” said Dylan Blank ’18, a Marketing Communications major, who is also involved with the planning committee.

Next semester, the event committee plans to expand the event by putting together an entire week of arts events focused around mental health, including dance performances, films, poetry, and open mic among other mediums.

While Emerson Counseling and Psychological Services (ECAPS) does not have an official role, staff will be attending the event to support the efforts of the Project WOW committee and give students information about counseling services.

“I am so excited by the work Suzie Hicks and the planning committee have done,” said ECAPS Director Elise Harrison. “This is the first Project WOW and I hope Suzie and the committee have planted the seeds for a new Emerson tradition.”


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