Main Menu


Art Students named Healing Art Exhibit Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the inaugural Healing Art Exhibit hosted by the University Counseling Center: Mors Smith, Minh Vuong, and Diego Torres. The Healing Art Showcase was on display in the Union lobby from Jan. 30 - Feb. 3. Each attendee had the chance to vote for their top three favorite art submissions.

The three with the most votes are given the People's Choice Awards, including a cash prize of $200 for 1st place, $100 for 2nd place and $50 for 3rd place.

The theme for 2023 was on the experience of managing burnout. Burnout is a common student experience that impacts most students at some point in their academic career. A systematic review in 2021 on the prevalence of burnout syndrome in university students showed estimates of 55.4% for emotional exhaustion, 31.6% for cynicism and 30.9% for academic efficacy. (Rosales-Ricardo Y. 2021).

Healing Art Exhibit

1st Place: Mors Smith

Let Them Out

Burnout is painful. Getting help is scary, daunting, and sometimes makes you feel goofy. Why should I be struggling? Burnout creates a hole in your chest. Confronting the worms by seeking help makes you feel bare and vulnerable to those who might help or judge. Let them out, one worm at a time. Letting out a worm can be emotional, expressive, and difficult, but is a step towards healing your mind and body.

headshot of Mors Smith.Artist Q & A

1. What is your major and year at the U?

I am double majoring in Studio Art with Ceramics Emphasis, and Gender Studies. It's my second year at the U, but in total it’s my fourth year as a college student.

2. How did you create this piece?

I used canvas and acrylic paint for this piece. Painting was not something I was very familiar with at the time, and so to save money I only bought red, yellow, blue, and black/white paints. Eventually I used a bit of purple paint that I found towards the end. I challenged myself to push the limits of those colors in my work, and I think because of that the color really stands out and unifies the piece.

3. What made you decide to participate in the Healing Art Exhibit on Managing Burnout?

I was initially on the fence about participating in the Healing Art Exhibit. Mostly being that I am a ceramics artist and 3-D works were not accepted. But given that any work within three years of creation could be accepted, all I had to do was look through some of my older work. After hurriedly looking through some of my old sketchbooks, computer files, etc. I remembered my stash of old canvases, and hidden between them, was the piece I entered. I made that piece, Let Them Out, in March of 2021 when I was going through a lot of major life changes. This piece was a way for me to express my feelings of instability, worry, depression, rejection, and burnout. Burnout hit really close to home because I had just left music school, and no longer felt any joy in music. Finding another way to express my feelings was intimidating, but it was a process that helped me feel inspired again.

4. Thoughts and feelings on being one of the winners?

I am absolutely ecstatic that I won. Seeing that people were able to resonate with my feelings, and the imagery that I chose to represent them with, brings me so much joy. It serves as a reminder to me to have more confidence in myself and my art. And as a college student it's very nice to have some extra cash. I owe a big thank you to the University Counseling Center for hosting the art exhibit, and to the people who voted for my work.

2nd Place: Minh Vuong

Shattered MirageShattered Mirage

I was trying to show how people build up different identities to cope with social standards. The victim in my photo is slowly loosing her identity, but she cried and all of the sudden so do all her other identities. I want to convey that although it seems useless, crying and acknowledging your emotions maybe is the first step to cope with burn out?

Minh Vuong headshotArtist Q & A

1. What is your major and year at the U?

QAMO (Quantitative Analysis of Markets and Organizations) with an emphasis on Business Economics and Analytics, and Photography Minor. I am currently in my first year at the U!

2. How did you create this piece?

Photography is my medium. After setting up my space and backdrop, I placed two transparent papers of the colors red and green on two of the sides. After warming up and styling my model, I asked her to slowly cry and eventually wail. In order to capture her wide range of emotions, I had my camera on a tripod and kept shooting while directing her to act. After that, I went through all of the photos, selected my favorite ones and started editing.

3. What made you decide to participate in the Healing Art Exhibit on Managing Burnout?

I was mainly curious to see how people would react to my art and to see it being displayed among many other great works in a public setting. The theme ties nicely to this project I was doing a few months back, and it’s a nice way to get the conversations started -  to expose us and connect that same feeling of being burnt out.

4. Thoughts and feelings on being one of the winners?

I feel extremely grateful to know that people can find empathy and connection to my art, that my message actually got conveyed! It’s also my first time winning something at the U so I am happy! If you are curious, you can see more of my works with a similar theme via @mv.ography on Instagram!

3rd Place: Diego Torres


In the last few years, I feel like I've been stuck. Working a part-time job and being a full-time student has challenged me since the pandemic. Working long days in the studio, and long nights picking up extra shifts to pay for my education. My spare time is either spent sleeping or doing homework. I constantly feel at the end of my rope. I feel like my stress is noticed by others, but they choose to move along and not mention it. I feel as though I am a car without gas trying to dominate a hill, even though I have little energy left I can't stop pushing forward. If I stop now I feel that I will never start again.

Headshot of Diego TorresArtist Q & A

1. What is your major and year at the U?

Fine Arts Major, Emphasis on Painting and Drawing.

2. How did you create this piece?

Vine Charcoal and Oil Paint on wooden panel.

3. What made you decide to participate in the Healing Art Exhibit on Managing Burnout?

It would be fun to share my art in a more public setting, and I was intrigued by the theme too! We all can experience and understand burnout—it's a chance to start a conversation.

4. Thoughts and feelings on being one of the winners?

I feel fantastic about it! I've never won an art contest before, so I'm proud!

- Morgan Aguilar, Student Affairs