Art Student Alecia Behrle Creates Installation Around Topic of Mental Health  

On the evening of Thursday, March 14, Alecia Behrle ‘19,  a Fine Arts student at Moravian College with a focus on Installation Art, presented her senior art gallery opening titled “When the Magic Comes.”

When Behrle began working on her exhibition, she found herself creating various organic, soft shapes. She realized that the motivation for the show blossomed from her negative experiences working with the American mental health care system. She wanted to contrast the cold atmosphere and undesirable experiences she endured inside these institutions with a warm, welcoming space that would allow her, as well as others, to feel comfortable and at peace in a place which she describes as her version of “a healing space.”

The exhibit displays an abundance of organic shapes with rounded, curved edges crafted out of insulation foam board that are painted in bright pastel colors and lined in fur and mounted onto the walls. Behrle painted lines from one foam piece to another, creating movement in the composition which draws the eye all throughout the room.

She says that the rounded edges of the shapes and the pastel colors work together to make the space peaceful and inviting, as opposed to sharper edges and darker colors which tend to be less soothing in nature.

Behrle’s favorite part of the show consists of the smaller canvases mounted on the walls in between the interconnected lines and shapes. She says that their purpose is to give observers a break from the busyness of the surrounding wall space.

Through past experiences with her mental health, Behrle realized that in order to ground herself and bring herself back to the present, she had to engage the five senses. To represent them, she crafted four ceramic vases, each one depicting either sight, smell, sound, or  taste.

In the center of the room, she installed a pendulum, which represents touch and encourages  guests to move the bob around and create “rhythmic, meditative ellipses” in the sand below. Each of these components are also painted with colors matching the installations on surrounding wall space.

To further engage guests in her exhibit, she filled the room with the scent of sage and provided bubble wands for guests to use inside the room, adding to the playful, dream-like atmosphere. On the floor, pieces of faux-fur fabric are cut out in shapes similar to those seen on the walls, which guests are encouraged to feel as well.

When asked what she would change about her gallery if she had unlimited funds, she said she would expand the exhibit and increase the scale of the pendulum.

Behrle’s show is a reminder to all of us that we should be mindful of and tend to our mental health through outlets that remind us to return to the present and stay grounded in times of need.