Nola Mims with Steel Smiling
This project, part of the Public Art and Communities Program, is a trauma-informed creative workshop series that explores art and movement as a form of healing for Black mental health advocates. Consisting of nine creative healing workshops, the series aims to better Black mental health for a critical group of advocates in the region.
Since 2021, Nola Mims has partnered closely with Steel Smiling, a Pittsburgh-based organization that seeks to bridge the gap between Black people and mental health support through education, advocacy and awareness. One of Steel Smiling’s hallmark initiatives is Beams to Bridges, a two-year training program that provides monthly mental health educational experiences for a cohort of community members. The inaugural Beams to Bridges cohort, located in the Hilltop neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, recently graduated the program and are operating as mental health advocates in their communities.
Mims developed this creative workshop series to provide these Beams to Bridges graduates with an ongoing forum for coping and connection. Through this series, Mims hopes that participants can grow and nurture creative self-care practices that can help to support their own health journeys as they in turn continue to advocate for the mental health of their own friends and neighbors.
The content of the workshop series will be developed collaboratively by Mims and the Beams to Bridges cohort members, to best address their self-defined needs. Ranging from creative movement and music to art-making and cooking and beyond, the workshops will take place from Spring to Fall 2022 and may culminate in an exhibition of resulting works by the cohort. The details of the exhibition will be determined by Mims in collaboration with cohort members.
Learn more about Nola Mims and their other projects on their website.
Learn more about Steel Smiling on their website.
About the Artist
Pittsburgh-based artist Nola Mims has a research-based creative practice that centers themes of the psyche and social justice. With a BA in Psychology and Studio Arts, Nola uses a variety of mediums to explore identity as a psychological and cultural concept. Mims also produces creative educational resources to advocate for harm reduction and science-based drug education.
“I hope each member finds a new creative coping strategy that feels right to them. While carrying out this project, I also hope to support the sustainability of future community workshops beyond the collaboration.”Nola Mims