The recently concluded “Walk with Me” art exhibition curated by Jemima Kakizi featured 10 female artists who embedded the recurring theme of mental health into their different art forms including photography, art installations, digital art and paintings. Kakizi pointed out that the increasing cases of those affected with mental health issues is what prompted it as a theme for the exhibition, as well as the need to give women the platform to share their thoughts through art is a two for one win, given that the arts amplify the voices of men a lot more than those of their female counterparts. READ ALSO: Three week art exhibition to focus on mental health One of the artists that featured in the three week exhibition is Alice Kayibanda. She traces her inspiration to create this particular series of visual art back to a past encounter with depression, which is best depicted in her photographs. Kayibanda, who is a regular exhibitor, is of the view that more light ought to be shed on mental health issues, depression in particular, before it evolves into a full-fledged epidemic for Rwanda in the future, thus creating space for conversations on mental health through art, a preventative measure. The first of her four photographs titled “Trapped” tells the story of a tear stricken girl stuck behind a window with rain falling outside, which makes it hard to distinguish the tears from the rain; thus portraying a sense of overwhelmingness and distress that normally occurs when one loses their voice to cater to the expectations of others. The second photograph from Kayibanda’s collection dubbed “moving or not moving” depicts the same girl positioned in a place or stillness (probably prohibiting physical movement) with wandering eyes. The photograph is a representation of finding bliss amidst the things you can’t control, best articulated with the eyes which contrasts with the flowers symbolizing how mandatory upholding societal routines have become. One of Kayibanda’s most intriguing photographs titled “Lord grant me some inner peace” is an articulate representation of serenity which attributes to the final stages of the healing process, often preceded by acceptance. The tagline “mirror mirror” often referencing self-reflection befits the art installation displayed at the exhibition. Submitted by Natacha Muzira, the installation mirror is a representation of one’s relationship with self, and participants engaged with that ideal by writing notes, mostly affirmations on the mirror. Miriam Birara’s contribution to the exhibition is one of the most intriguing ones. The paintings she has on display are all characterised by long necks, which is symbolic to the longevity and intensity of mental health struggles. Birara featured two paintings that share a similar theme of companionship. The first part of the duo dubbed “Twembi I” portrays a man leaning on a woman which according to Birara symbolises breaking the stigma around men’s mental health, thus making the painting a clear representation that “boys can cry too” and there’s nothing wrong with asking for help, regardless of gender norms. The imagery in one of the paintings dubbed “Twembi II” is characterized by two people on the other side of one another holding hands. According to Miriam Birara, the upside down art piece represents the different stages of life people are going through and how they each have the power to lift up one another. According to Kakizi, the art that will inevitably spread far and wide will kick start in depth conversations on mental health and potentially inspire those with the financial capabilities to establish new (much needed) mental institutions across the country to do so because the fact that there is only one mental institute poses as a hindrance.