Mason Exhibitions Arlington Presents the Healing Artists Collective Edges of What I Feel

By East City Art Editorial Team on June 5, 2023

Fri, June 2 2023 — Sat, August 26 2023

Michelle A. Smith, Absence: Grief, 2023, Suspended steel spike that points at an empty white rocking chair, 72 in x 72 in x 72 in.

A series of works inviting viewers to become comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Mason Exhibitions Arlington will showcase recent artworks by the Healing Artists Collective (CJ Davis, Moe Lewis, Liz Louise, Steven Luu, Abdulrahman Naanseh, Alanna Rivera, Adrian Scalzo, Michelle A. Smith, and Tessie Van Dyke) from June 2–August 26, 2023. Artists in the collective include George Mason University School of Art faculty, alumni, and a current student.

Mason Exhibitions Arlington is honored to present Edges of What I Feel, an exhibit focused on exposing the raw and uncomfortable day-to-day struggles posed by mental health issues as a result of chronic pain, trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, sexual assault, and domestic violence. The exhibit is curated by George Mason University’s School of Art professor and artist, Peter Winant.

Edges of What I Feel expresses the personal intimate accounts of each participating artist while expanding on the collective’s desire to bring the global complexities of mental health into an open light and common ground for all to consider. In an era of growing interpersonal isolation, the politicization of mental health, and diminishing resources, the struggle for equitable access is real. Barriers constructed through social stigma, and prejudice against class, race, ethnicity, gender, ability, and sexual orientation too often play a role in not being able to access healthcare, leaving those in need feeling frustrated and hopeless. These artists offer hope.

This exhibition invites the viewer to become comfortable with being uncomfortable as the artists of the Healing Artist Collective share the visceral realities of their own mental and physical health challenges that cannot be explained by words alone, bridging the gap between what can be said and what is real but defies words. The artists communicate through the universal language of art to offer the viewer a deeper understanding of their own personal struggles and triumphs. They invite the viewer to gain a profound connection with their healing processes to invoke a greater healing within the collective wound.

About the Artists
Painter CJ Davis’ (current Mason student) life inspired her to advocate for mental health, especially for those in BIPOC communities. Davis makes paintings that respond to the intersectionality of her identity, her struggles with mental and physical health, as well as trauma.

Moe Lewis (School of Art faculty/BFA New Media Art, 2020) is a mixed media artist that uses digital, colored pencil, fiber arts, printmaking, and sculpture. He is currently branching his professional works into different, more unconventional mediums in hopes of expanding the public understanding of and blurring the lines we use to separate handicraft and art.

Liz Louise (School of Art faculty) is a photo-based artist in the NOVA area. Her work, 100 Days of Depression, is a nonlinear history of her mental health one day at a time. She uses black and blue watercolors to explore what depression feels like at that moment.

Steven Luu (School of Art faculty/BFA Sculpture, 2021) recognizes that art allows him to present his feelings comfortably and focuses on expressing traumatic experiences creatively and non-verbally. He creates art to help and communicate with others, focusing on mental health-related matters.

Grounded in classical forms while evolving his stylistic methods, Abdulrahman Naanseh (School of Art adjunct professor) has developed a practice that incorporates research and readings of ancient Arabic language and modern Arabic poetry, linguistic analysis of Arabic words and sounds, and the direct experience of the social pressures engrained in religion and politics.

Artist Alanna Rivera’s (School of Art faculty) artwork focuses on a raw and unfiltered look at the guilt, frustration, anger, sadness, fear, and curiosity she felt (and still feels) about an emotionally and sexually abusive relationship she was in from the ages of 14 to 19.

The central aspect of mixed-media sculpture artist Adrian Scalzo’s (School of Art faculty/BFA Sculpture, 2021) work is the theme of the “self.” How one sees themself, their thoughts, feelings, and emotions, how Scalzo believes the world sees them, and how they may interact with the world are only some of the ideas he may explore in his works.

Sculptor Michelle A. Smith’s (School of Art faculty/BFA Sculpture, 2021) work positions the viewer within her narratives, focusing on confronting and expanding the emotions of grief and loss. She invites her audience to experience the edges of what she feels using sculpture and installations that encompass a variety of media.

Tessie Van Dyke (BFA Sculpture, 2020) is a mixed-media and performance artist that uses art as a form of therapy. They work as an urban farmer and look to dance to improve their health and now pole dance as their main form of artistic expression.

Additional programming supporting the exhibition:
Events will take place at Mason Exhibitions Arlington unless otherwise noted.

  • Every Friday 5 to 8 p.m. A rotating roster of the artists in the exhibition will showcase a hands-on activity.
  • Sofar Sounds + Healing Music
    Friday, June 30 from 7 to 9 p.m.
    In tune with the healing arts theme of the exhibition, Sofar Sounds will bring musical artists that use music as their tool to heal.

For up-to-date information, visit the website.

The exhibition and events are free and open to members of the media and the public.

About Mason Exhibitions
Mason Exhibitions offers a multi-venue forum for the presentation of contemporary visual artists who advance research, dialogue, and learning around global social issues. Galleries are located on the Fairfax, Arlington, and Manassas campuses. Through its research partnership with Provisions Research Center for Arts and Social Change, Mason Exhibitions develops cross-disciplinary curatorial platforms to engage questions around philosophy, social justice, the environment, communications, conflict transformation, identity, and technology. Mason Exhibitions Arlington is the newest gallery, with its doors open to artists from around the world who bring new knowledge and action toward a more inclusive society. For more information, please visit:


  • Thursday and Saturday from 12 to 5pm
  • Friday from 12 to 8pm

The exhibit will be on view at Mason Exhibitions Arlington, located at 3601 Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22201, from June 2 through August 26, 2023.