Asa Featherstone, IV

Asa Featherstone, IV

Coping Mechanisms

Art at the Intersection of Racism and Mental Health

Featuring artwork by:
Michael Coppage, Taylor Davis, Asa Featherstone IV, Dr. Tia Sherèe Gaynor, Benjamin Pierce, Gaye Reissland, Vitus Shell, Laurie VanBalen, & Asha White

View select works from Coping Mechanisms in the virtual exhibit below. The exhibit is also on display at the Bridge Gallery (located inside the building at 400 W. Rich St., Columbus, OH, 43215) from July 9 to August 16, 2021. It is open to the public during Franklinton Friday on July 9 and August 13, 6 – 10 p.m. and by appointment. Email or call 614.744.8110 to schedule a tour.

Join us for a panel discussion on Saturday, August 14 from 6 - 7:30 p.m. at 400 W. Rich Street as part of the Be The Light Mental Health Gallery Exhibit! For details and guest registration, please click here.

Coping Mechanisms takes place as America begins to reckon with its systemic racism, something that became especially blatant in 2020 – not only with the murder of George Floyd, but in the devastating and disproportionate toll of the coronavirus pandemic. According to the CDC in May 2021, Black people are nearly twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as white people in America, and Latino, Hispanic, and Indigenous people are nearly two and a half times as likely. These and other stark disparities point not only to the inadequate healthcare access that has long burdened communities of color, but to the stressors and inequities that regularly contribute to distress, poor health, and vulnerability. It points to racism as its own pandemic, one that impacts mental, and in turn physical, well-being

When data and statistics like these are difficult to grasp, art can provide a point of entry. In collaboration with Cincinnati artist and activist Michael Coppage, who works in the behavioral health field, Fresh A.I.R. Gallery curated the works of eight artists whose art addresses the intersection of racism and mental health on a personal, human level. Through photography, video, painting, and sculpture, the exhibit addresses issues such as dehumanization, intergenerational trauma, and the cumulative mental effects of microaggressions and biased language. It also invites visitors to engage with these sources of mental duress and begin the work of dismantling them.

Michael Coppage

Portraits from BLACK BOX project by Michael Coppage

Laurie VanBalen

What If? 
8 x 8'
Papier maché mixed media sculpture

Asa Featherstone, IV

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Select images from OVER/TIME series
Dimensions variable
Lustre digital photo prints

Gaye Reissland


Inner Thoughts
24 x 20"
Acrylic and oil pastels on canvas


48 x 24"
Alcohol ink and resin on board

Asha White

Crown Chakra

Crown Chakra
14 x 11"
Oil on canvas

Ive lost count

STOP! I've Lost Count
14 x 11"
Oil on canvas


14 x 11"
Oil on canvas

An absolute mess

An Absolute Mess
14 x 11"
Oil on canvas

Benjamin Pierce


Kienlen Ella. Bateleur eagle, shape shifter.
8 x 2.5'
House paint on panel


Clockwise from top left:
Kingsnake. Red tanager, shapeshifter.
Tuskeegee. Ceremonial Dancer.
Amistad Peterson. Shaman.
Bogo Woodson. Euchlaena amoenaria, shapeshifter.
10 x 7.5"
Mixed media on board

Vitus Shell


Swinging in the Dark, 2021
68 x 59"
Latex, paper, and acrylic on canvas


Legally Blind, 2021
68 x 43"
Latex, paper, and acrylic on canvas

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