Aug 25, 2021 People & Community Art Mends is a series that encourages mental health and wellness. Through community conversations and curated art kits created in partnership with local artists, art therapists, and community leaders, we hope to promote the importance of coping through art, building empathy, and providing access to mental health education. In our most recent Art Mends art kit, Reflect and Connect, artist Leah Grant lends her expertise to offer creative artmaking activities, poetry, and mental health resources. Leah lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where she is currently an MFA candidate in the School of Art at the University of Arkansas. She graduated with her BFA from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. Leah incorporates collage techniques and images from a personal archive to recontextualize her experiences through a lace web that allows her to reveal and conceal the vulnerable parts of her identity. Her background is in printmaking, but she also utilizes photography, writing, audio, and video in her art practice. Below, enjoy a Q&A with Leah as she discusses her thoughts on art and creativity. Crystal Bridges: Tell us about how you think about art. Leah Grant: Right now, I view art as philosophical layers. CB: How do your roots and life impact the creation of your art? LG: My art practice serves as my permission giver to process my life experiences and to create new ones. I learned the term “permission giver” from my friend Breanne Trammell. She says it is like giving yourself your own authority. I like that idea and confidence when I am working on work that is not always easy to share. CB: How would you describe your art and what’s your favorite forms of art and making? LG: I love collage!!!! It is how I create a narrative. I get to reveal and conceal so many things through this approach. I apply collage in every medium I work in such as printmaking, photography, laser cutting/engraving, or video and audio. CB: What’s a recent artwork of yours that you’d like us to know about and why? LG: Please check out my website. I have new video and audio collage pieces up that I am excited about. CB: Who’s your favorite artist in Crystal Bridges collection and why? LG: I don’t have a favorite artist, but the artist I picked for the kit was Carrie Mae Weems and her image Untitled (Woman standing), which is from her Kitchen Table series. It is so nice to revisit that classic body of work. Carrie is famous for controlling her own narrative when photographing herself or her loved ones. CB: How do you look at a collage as a form of expressing personal stories and feelings? LG: I see and use collage as a tool that allows anyone to be the many components that can make up who they are and who they want to be. An example from visual culture would be Steven Universe and the Crystal Gems. If you haven’t seen this show, please do. It’s very tender! CB: What is it about the process of making art that inspires you? LG: The “aha” and “Ooo” moments! Carrie Mae Weems, Untitled (Woman standing), from the series The Kitchen Table, 1990, printed 2015, 28 1/4 × 28 1/4 in. (71.8 × 71.8 cm), gelatin silver print, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2015.24.3. CB: Speaking of process and making, could you walk us through the creative process of a collage activity using the supplies from the Art Mends kit? LG: In the kit, there will be materials to assist any additional materials you have at home to create a collage. I encourage everyone to use old images, artwork, magazines, and paper from their homes or studios. Basically anything that you do not have to purchase at the store. In the images below, you will see I used magazine clippings I brought from my room, so there is no need to feel what you have is not enough. I like to take time cutting from multiple pages before gluing objects down. Once I have my pieces ready, I just play some music and start to have fun working on my composition. I start on multiple pieces at a time to get my creativity flowing. That way I am not spending too much time on one piece. When you are done with your collages/workbook activity please tag #crystalbridges (TW/IG: @crystalbridgesmuseum) to share with the community. You can tag me as well, I would love to see what poems and collages everyone comes up with (IG: @leahgrantart). Thank you for taking the time to learn about my art practice!