Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Longhorn SHARE Project hosts mental health support circles at Blanton Museum

Lorianne Willett

The Longhorn SHARE Project will offer mental health peer support SHARE circles throughout the month at the Blanton Museum of Art to provide a safe space for students to talk about mental health.

The Blanton project was originally created by Plan II junior Annie Franklin as a grief support group during the spring 2023 semester. She said the project was directly inspired by her experience of losing a parent.

“It was intentional for me to create a space that felt healing for me, as well as to create a space to foster that for others,” said Franklin, a gallery teacher at the Blanton Museum. “It’s a very personal project for me. It’s something that I’m very proud to have worked on.”

During these SHARE circles, Franklin said she plans to select a couple of artworks related to that day’s specific theme, with the next two planned themes being loneliness and love. The small group of around 10 to 15 students will then look at these artworks and discuss how they resonate with the art.

“It’s a very interactive experience; it’s not like a lecture at all,” Franklin said. “We’re looking at art together and talking about how we relate to it, and then using that to transition into discussions about our own experiences with these mental health subjects.”

The Longhorn SHARE Project, created by project coordinator Adrian Lancaster, launched its pilot program during the spring 2022 semester. On top of SHARE circles, the program hosts group spaces called SHARE communities that meet every week, as opposed to the SHARE circles which are one-time experiences, Lancaster said.

“One of my goals is to give students who are interested in the arts but who maybe don’t have as much experience opening up or talking about their emotions … an easier doorway into that kind of space,” Lancaster said. “So (I’m) using art as a way to make it easier to open up about mental health or about these things that are common among students at UT.”

The first Blanton Museum SHARE circle was held on Oct. 20, and the next two will be held on Friday and Nov. 10. The last event acted as a trial run, and Lancaster said he hopes to get the word out more in the future.

While students don’t need background experience in art or art history to participate, Franklin said she is glad to use her experience with the subject to help others.

“I’m very passionate about using art in these ways,” Franklin said. “I really appreciate the chance to complement that with more guided mental health support.” 

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story stated Franklin was inspired to start the SHARE project from her “experience growing up with foster parents” which has been corrected to “her experience of losing a parent.” The Texan regrets this error. 

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About the Contributor
Lorianne Willett, Photo Editor
Lorianne is a Journalism and Global Sustainability junior from San Antonio, Texas. Currently, she is the Photo Editor. In her free time, she enjoys reading and playing tennis.