Age: 22

Hometown: Cartersville, GA

Generation: 2nd - Nisei

Biography: Sophia Inaba is a fourth year studying Musicology and Neuroscience at UCLA. She hopes to become a music therapist and advocate for expressive art therapies in mental health. Her struggle and journey with mental health have served her with lessons on the value of creative expression. Her hobbies include journaling, making silly songs, playing with UCLA Kyodo Taiko, and singing in Awaken A Cappella.

Name of Piece: Beautiful Mess

The rumination of thoughts in our heads can lead us to believe in a mess that seems to permeate our lives. Upon close reflection and some passage of time, this perceived and sometimes real mess can be recreated or renegotiated as something beautiful, like a piece of art. While emotions of anxiety and depression are undeniably valid, so is the potential of unleashing innate wisdom through creatively improvising with what is in front of us. This piece offers a response to challenging moments in the journey of mental health: to consider the creativity that lies in us to make something valuable out of the very “mess” we created. 

Name of Piece: Synergy

Mental health is most challenging when how we are living is out of alignment with where we are, who we are, and how we want to be living. This piece attempts to capture what the soul may experience when it feels out of line and is seeking alignment. The piece mentions aspects of the body and how mindfulness can serve as our ears to listen for what the self needs. It also suggests that hope comes from reaching out and connecting with others. 

Name of Piece: Ella

Masks have been used for generations across countless cultures in various settings in order to depict an entity to be embodied by the mask-wearer. In expressive arts therapies, mask-making is used as a tool to reconstruct a personal narrative or dialogue with the mask’s symbolism for new meaning-making. Mask-making allows one to reflect on both personal and greater history of what it means to be human. 

In creating this mask for myself, I used purple for my dark thoughts, green for feelings of shame, and yellow for my capacity to be cheerful; a white eye shape on the forehead suggests wisdom; blue dots along the eyes represent tears and how they can be made into art by whatever moves them; a lace ribbon covering the lips is an illusion of the silenced self. If I speak out, people will still hear me. This process was a way to retell my drama while also making a future of hope. 

While I believe some art should be freely interpreted by spectators, I find importance in describing my creative process for this piece in order to invite others to engage in a similar process of meaning-making. Addressing mental illness can be daunting; mask-making allows for imaginary externalization of a struggle, creating space to reflect.