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What Happens When Art and Mental Health Collide?

by Lewis hawkins
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Black Art Is … A Conversation Starter 

As the project founder of The Infinite Steps to Health (ISH) Project, a nonprofit community wellness group, he recently debuted his first documentary “Black Health IS” in late July in Ann Arbor; a second one is coming in August.

The “Black Heath IS” documentary takes the lead of the ISH Project by bringing the conversation of health to the forefront and applying it directly to the Black community in the form of a methodical storyline and using metaphorical art to educate the audience on why improved Black health is so critically necessary. The film highlights real testimonies from individuals touching on the topics of mental and sexual health in the African American community.

The ISH Project aims to improve not only the quality of life of its participants but also that of the greater community by educating its members on various ways they can get their communities active outside of the traditional physical activity people may know.

“We want to plant the seed in people’s minds that health is more of an umbrella term with many subcategories under it,” Hill was quoted as saying in the press release. “Mental and emotional health are both elements we often forget to include when we say we want to improve our health. Our organization offers unique activities to exercise every aspect of our overall health”.

Hill, a graduate of University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Xavier University in Cincinnati (and currently attending Wayne State University), was the winner of the 2021 Black Art & Film Fest, and Best Documentary Award in the 2021 Best Experimental Documentary for “Black Health IS.”

Hill told the Michigan Chronicle that while at Xavier he studied philosophy and he had to write a senior thesis on how to properly heal patients based on their cultural and racial backgrounds.

“The more I thought about that the more I realized … we don’t actually know; we don’t actually discuss the roots of where these issues are coming from and then how to properly acknowledge the Black community in comparison to other races,” he said, adding that the film was “necessary” to show the mental health hurdles the Black community faces.

Hill’s documentary is slated to be shown a second time (along with a panel discussion) Sunday, August 15, at Nandi’s Knowledge Café, 71 Oakman Blvd. In Highland Park; a time was not established yet as of press time. His upcoming event will feature discussions surrounding healing, artists and their perspectives and more.

“[It’s] really important we dive deeper and really think critically around it [mental health]; the only way we’ll be able to shift the climate around it,” he said.

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