#StigmaFreeFishers

This week in Fishers, Indiana, a set of 12 brain sculptures arrived and were placed around the downtown area. Yesterday, I went downtown to find all of them. The brains are part of an initiative by the Mental Health Task Force to raise awareness about mental health. Each of the 12 brains have a different theme related to factors in brain functioning/health and awareness:

  • Growth and development

  • Brain branches

  • World music

  • Brain food (see below)
  • Brain mapping

  • Brain facts

  • Mental health (see below)
  • Communication

  • Brain innovation

  • Evolution of learning

  • Physical health and brain wellness

  • Thinking outside the box

They were commissioned by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroanatomist who is famous for her “stroke of insight”. These brains have travelled through other cities in Indiana to arrive in Fishers. The brains will be displayed around the downtown area of Fishers until August, when they will be moved to Hamilton Southeastern high schools.

When I went to visit the brains, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I hadn’t heard anyone talking about them. There were barely any posts using #stigmafreefishers. I’m on the ground floor with this. I was not disappointed. I think it is a little odd to call this an awareness project, but it is definitely an educational one. It is a step in the right direction toward understanding brain wellness and the link to general health. Each composition showed an understanding of the assigned area of focus, usually with a different design for the left and right sides. Sometimes it was simply the contrast between the two sides that made the best impact, and sometimes it was different perspectives that contributed the most to the piece.

For the sake of the length of this post, I’m going to highlight a couple of my favorite statues. First is the Brain Food themed statue.

IMG_0399

This sculpture was just so fun! All the representations of different foods were really cute. If you look at the fish in the middle of this picture, the teeth are made from pencils. All the different textures, colors, and styles really represented the subject. It was well made and creative. Diet is so important to many areas of health, mental health being only one of them. It should not be overlooked when considering any area of wellness. The sign attached to this statue described how different foods affect body chemistry as well as listing some superfoods. An entire textbook could have (and may have) been written about how different foods affect the body, but the artist kept it simple and relevant while still creating an impact. All of these things make it my favorite of the 12.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the mental health brain.

The mental health one was interesting because of the medium used on the right side of the brain. The right side was made from what looks like pipe cleaners, or at least something similar. It was really warm and inviting to touch. The animals depicted on it were silly and fun. This is how brains are nurtured and grow, especially chronically ill brains. The left side was a bunch of distorted faces with speech bubbles. The speech bubbles were made out of chalkboard material. Some words were written in chalk, but most of them were too light to read. I think it was supposed to represent giving a voice to traditionally outcasted individuals. If that was the purpose, it was executed really well and I love the concept. Fighting stigma begins with giving a voice to those affected by mental illness.

I can’t possibly go through every single sculpture and talk about them in depth. I included many pictures as I can of each one. Overall, I was very impressed, particularly that the city of Fishers managed to complete this initiative. I’m waiting with baited breath to find out what the mental health task force will do next.

Special Report by GWEN T. 

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