New arts initiative aims to open dialogue about mental health through event series | Arts + Entertainment | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

New arts initiative aims to open dialogue about mental health through event series

click to enlarge A piece by Darrin Milliner of Social Living, one of the artists who will display their latest pieces at Artist Talk on Sat., Nov. 20.
A piece by Darrin Milliner of Social Living, one of the artists who will display their latest pieces at Artist Talk on Sat., Nov. 20.
Ahead of National Survivors of Suicide Day on Sun., Nov. 21, people in Pittsburgh are making way for conversations about suicide prevention and mental health education. Pittsburgh City Paper recently reported about mental health in the artist community, and the trope of the “tortured artist,” as part of our annual Health Issue, and one local initiative is hoping to add to the conversation.

Artist Talk is the first in a series of mental health events for creatives, hosted by Pittsburgh artist Sydney Davis.

“Artists deal with unspoken pressures that directly affect their mental health, and it’s not being put in the spotlight in Pittsburgh,” says Davis in a press release. “Quarantine took a toll on artists, and there’s a constant pressure to produce and put things out there on top of having been stuck in the house and losing jobs. It caused a lot of stress.”


Davis is the founder of Niplids, a “nipple-printed” hat and apparel line that includes hand-painted pieces that bring awareness to body empowerment and breast cancer. She says she uses her artwork to encourage others to celebrate their imperfections.

Artist Talk will take place on Sat., Nov. 20 at Opya Studios on the South Side and will feature live music from R&B singer Joziah Council and rapper PK Delay, with visual art presentations by Art by Sierra and Social Living. There will also be photo and video installations from Directed by Yash, as well as a black-and-white photo series titled The Me I’ve Always Wanted by Patience. Pittsburgh’s DJ Femi will be spinning tunes during downtime.
click to enlarge A piece by Art by Sierra, one of the artists who will display their latest pieces at Artist Talk on Sat., Nov. 20.
A piece by Art by Sierra, one of the artists who will display their latest pieces at Artist Talk on Sat., Nov. 20.
The event aims to have the artists' work showcase their own personal mental health journeys in order to open a dialogue about being a creative in Pittsburgh.

“Art is an expression of our deeper selves, and it’s a way we can connect to each other,” Davis says. “Especially as we heal from the pandemic, we need a place to actually talk about these things with people who share the same lifestyle and goals.”

Food at the event will be provided by Pittsburgh chef Claudy Pierre, founder of The Eat Initiative Inc., Eminent Hospitality Solutions Co., and The Third Meal Project, and there will be beer available from Trace Brewing.


Proceeds from the event will benefit Hope For The Day, a Chicago-based nonprofit, who will also be in attendance to perform a mental health demo that aims to inspire guests to have conversations about their own mental health experiences and to give artists coping techniques to take home with them.

“I want artists to realize what’s possible for them,” Davis says. “I know what having support can give you, and I’m confident I can recreate a safe space that others don’t have.”
Artist Talk. 6-9 p.m. Sat., Nov. 20. Opya Studios. 2402 Sidney St., South Side. $15-20. Eventbrite page

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