CTxFSN Mental Health Pop-Up

Throughout the month of February 2019, Changing Tides organized a “Mental Health Pop-Up Art Exhibit” in Little Tokyo’s 341 First Street North (341 FSN) community space. They reached out to Japanese American artists, spanning from first generation (issei) to fifth generation (gosei), from various corners of the world. The 23 artists featured in the exhibit submitted pieces that were influenced by or that relate to mental health/mental illness.

On February 9th, 2019, the we welcomed well over 250 guests for the opening night of the exhibition. To kick off the evening, Grateful Crane’s yonsei a cappella group, “The Grateful 4,” performed an arrangement of English and Japanese songs to a completely filled room.

Artists, friends, family members, and passersby continued to visit the space throughout the month of February. In total, an estimated 700 people visited the pop-up, and each visitor was encouraged to interact with the space in any way they felt comfortable. Performances throughout the month included musician Miharu Okamura, poet Sabrina Im, and singer Sophia Inaba, all of whom provided open and honest expressions of mental health through the art of performance. With a generous donation of Pocky snacks from Ezaki Glico USA Corporation, Changing Tides encouraged visitors to #ShareHappiness and share their experiences with friends and family through social media. In an interactive piece designed by Crew Member Ty Tanioka and his father, Kevin Tanioka, visitors were also able to leave kind notes for strangers or to take notes for themselves.

Many friends and community members who visited the pop-up shared their personal stories with the CT Crew, noticed continued discussions about mental health after leaving the space, and expressed that they, too, hoped to promote the open dialogue with their family and friends. One of the highlights was Teryn Hara, a Crew Member and an Associate Clinical Social Worker, spending time with a local youth at the pop-up exhibit. The individual stopped inside seeking help after seeing the sign for the exhibit. Teryn had an extensive discussion with them about the intercultural difficulties of navigating mental health within the family, especially with parents of different cultural backgrounds and beliefs. Teryn was able to provide them with resources to help them continue the conversation with their family and friends.

The Changing Tides Crew would like to extend their gratitude to Mitsuko Brooks and LTSC’s +LAB for allowing them to use the 341 space to their full creative capacity. We would also like to thank Clement Hanami and the Japanese American National Museum for sharing the space with the Crew for the month of February, as well as for assisting in the setup and maintenance of the space. Finally, we would like to send a special thanks to UCLA Nikkei Student Union, Cafe Dulce, Ezaki Glico USA Corporation, Kizuna, the artists, and the performers for their support.

Check out this recap video from our CTxFSN Mental Health Pop-Up that was created by Doug Kawaguchi!