Art in the time of COVID-19 pandemic

The J. Amado Araneta Foundation (JAAF), the social development arm of the Araneta Group, is conducting a series of online art therapy sessions to select youth participants and medical frontliners in response to the ill effects of the pandemic.

Titled “I am Visible”: Mental Wellness Through Art Therapy, the project – which was organized via a grant from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts – started with its online sessions via Zoom last August 7 and 21, 2021. Two more online art therapy sessions will be held on September 11, and September 18.


“I am Visible” aims to acknowledge the mental health crisis happening in the country today which is being exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic. Among those affected are students who deal with stress and depression given the current online learning set-up, and doctors and community health workers who deal with burnout and anxiety from longer working hours and various work hazards.

“This is one of the bold and major undertakings of JAAF for 2021. We have taken steps to help address a growing issue of society – mental health. We have targeted vulnerable groups, which happen to be within our circle of influence, and even beyond,” JAAF’s Executive Director Diane Romero remarked.

JAAF partners with the Makati Medical Center Foundation for “I am Visible”, with the latter providing facilitators and identified doctor-participants. Joining the Program as art coaches are veteran artists Rene Canlas and Julius Legaspi, who will introduce the medium of drawing and painting: pencil, pastel, watercolor, and acrylic paints.

Online art exhibit

The program will end with an online exhibit to be launched on October 10, which is designated as World Mental Health Day. It will be curated by art teacher Jonah Mari Valenzuela, who has 15 years of art teaching experience with Xavier School Manila.

The virtual exhibit will be hosted on the website of Araneta City’s art museum, the Gateway Gallery, which spearheads the “I am Visible” project. It will open with a Curator’s Talk to be live streamed on the JAAF and Gateway Gallery Facebook pages. The exhibit will be up until January 10, 2022.

“Even if Gateway Gallery is closed to the public, as a community art space, we find it our responsibility to reach out, in our capacity, to address this concern. JAAF, through Gateway Gallery, is proud of “I am Visible”, Romero stated.

Most of the time, mental health problems are dismissed and swept under the rug. With “I am Visible”, participants will have voices, be listened to, acknowledged, and made visible. With ”I am Visible”, mental health will be legitimized, discussed, and supported because healthy communities start with holistically healthy individuals.

JAAF and Gateway Gallery thank the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Makati Medical Center Foundation, and CANVAS for supporting “I am Visible” and the mental health cause.

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