First Lady Chirlane McCray Teams Up With Tumblr for Mental Health Art Quilt

New Yorkers can contribute a patch.

New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray at Tumblr “Post It Forward” Community-Driven Mental Health Quilt launch. Courtesy of Edwin J. Torres/the Mayoral Photo Office.
New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray at Tumblr “Post It Forward” Community-Driven Mental Health Quilt launch. Courtesy of Edwin J. Torres/the Mayoral Photo Office.

Imagine a place where artists can come together to share messages of hope and support, letting the world know that it mental health conditions are nothing to be ashamed of. That’s what New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray envisions for the latest phase in “Post It Forward,” an initiative founded by Tumblr in May 2015.

“We’re trying to get the word about mental health and substance abuse,” McCray told artnet News in a phone call, noting that one in five people will experience a mental health issue during their lifetime. “Stigma is so prevalent in our communities, but that is beginning to change.”

The new project, which is party of the city’s plan to deal with untreated mental illness and substance abuse, asks artists to contribute a patch to a community quilt. The campaign, held in collaboration with ThriveNYC, is a community-building exercise to inspire conversation and to let the public know that mental illness is treatable.

New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray at Tumblr “Post It Forward” Community-Driven Mental Health Quilt launch. Courtesy of Edwin J. Torres/the Mayoral Photo Office.

New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray at Tumblr “Post It Forward” Community-Driven Mental Health Quilt launch. Courtesy of Edwin J. Torres/the Mayoral Photo Office.

McCray and Tumblr CEO and founder David Karp were on hand for a launch event in Queens on October 17, that the First Lady described as “super packed.” Participants were able to create their own original designs for the quilt, or could color in template designs with the theme of “changing the conversation around mental health” commissioned by the city and Tumblr from artists such as Laurene Boglio, Brian Butler, Josh Lafayette, and Geo-Law.

The first lady also selected three local artists: Mohammed Fayaz, EJ Hill, and Saya Woolfalk. “We have such a wonderful variety of artists in terms of style, in terms of background, in terms of the communities they come from,”said the First Lady of the city’s artists. She sung the praises of the healing power of art, a vehicle for self-expression that can help people “stay balanced in terms of their emotional welfare.”

Moving forward, Tumblr users can submit their original artistic swatches and panels about their own experiences with mental health, whether they have dealt with it personally or through a loved one, on the Post It Forward website.

Tumblr “Post It Forward” Community-Driven Mental Health Quilt launch. Courtesy of Edwin J. Torres/the Mayoral Photo Office.

Tumblr “Post It Forward” Community-Driven Mental Health Quilt launch. Courtesy of Edwin J. Torres/the Mayoral Photo Office.

Entries will be included in a quilt installation displayed digitally and at sites in New York City. Tumblr will donate $1 for each of the first 20,000 entries. Contributors can select from three benefiting charities, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Trevor Project or the Steve Fund.

Additional events where the public will have the opportunity to color patches for the quilt will be held across the five boroughs from Friday, October 21 through Monday, October 24, each featuring an interactive art installation from Tumblr artist Sirin Thada.


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