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Release: LACDMH Hosts WE RISE 2021 to Celebrate Creativity and Resilience, Support Recovery

For Immediate Release: April 20, 2021 


Series of countywide events marks Mental Health Awareness Month in May,  safely connecting communities after a year of isolation 

May 1 – 31, 2021 

Los Angeles – As part of its groundbreaking WE RISE initiative, the Los Angeles County Department of  Mental Health (LACDMH) is hosting a month-long series of free community programs, events and  experiences highlighting the healing powers of art and connection during Mental Health Awareness  Month in May. In its fourth year, WE RISE is needed now more than ever as the region emerges from the  isolation of the global pandemic and continues to grapple with related stressors and racial injustice.  

WE RISE encourages wellbeing and healing through art, connection, community engagement and  creative expression. WE RISE 2021 includes Art Rise, a series of 21 art experiences; Community Pop Ups, over 50 hyperlocal activities across Los Angeles County neighborhoods; and a robust Digital  Experience, offering original programs that can be enjoyed from anywhere. All installations and activities  are meant to be viewed from a distance, individually or in small groups, in order to remain COVID-safe  while still fostering community connection and collective healing 

“WE RISE is a celebration of wellbeing, healing and resiliency, which is of greater importance as we  emerge from the challenges created by the public health pandemic,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger,  author of the Board Motion to recognize Mental Health Awareness Month. “This initiative, and our ongoing  efforts to enhance mental health resources and services for our residents, is an integral part of the  County’s ongoing commitment to support our communities.”  

Safe, socially distanced and family-friendly, WE RISE events will be offered both online and at sites  across the county. 

“Connectedness is vital to mental health and wellbeing, more so now than ever as we begin recovering  from the multiple collective traumas experienced across our county this past year,” said Jonathan E.  Sherin, M.D., Ph.D., director of LACDMH. “Our WE RISE campaign, in its fourth year this May, is  designed as a heart-forward opportunity and movement built to empower our diverse communities to  come together for strength and healing.”  

Community Pop-Ups 

Community Pop-Ups are hyperlocal activities that will take place in each of LA County’s five supervisorial  districts, in partnership with over 50 community groups, artists, grassroots leaders, healers and other LA  County Departments such as Parks, Libraries and Metro. WE RISE 2021 highlights and supports the vital 

community-centered and civic work taking place in these neighborhoods. The Pop-Up projects, programs  and collaborations include mural-making, ancestral healing workshops, a countywide public literary art  project and more to celebrate the remarkable resources and communities in LA County and use arts based strategies for healing and wellbeing.  

Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural will present the 16th Annual Celebrating Words Festival: Written,  Performed and Sung. The virtual programming will include creative arts workshops, educational  presentations, queer poetry night and live entertainment, focused on providing a creative space for self expression as a form of healing and connection. This year’s drive-thru experience will provide an  engaging space for families to safely experience our festival and continue to promote literacy as a viable  way to cultivate knowledge, imagination and wellbeing. The festival’s book giveaway will provide access  to 1,000 culturally relevant and social justice-oriented books for all ages, including Spanish language and  bilingual books. Additionally, the drive-thru experience will include a multifaceted art installation  highlighting the voices of youth in the community and their experience of 2020, as well as showcasing the  impact of incarceration and encouraging a re-imagination of community safety. 

Community Coalition will create Culture Cures, a participatory community altar to lives lost to COVID-19  in South LA. The altar will serve as a way to heal and envision an equitable future where everyone has an  opportunity to thrive.  

Mujeres de Maiz will feature mural pop-ups, performances, art and holistic workshops exploring ancestral  wellness topics and digital storytelling presented through a bilingual, intercultural and interdisciplinary lens  with a goal of fostering collaboration among neighbors, artists, cultures and communities across LA  County’s five districts.  

18th Street Arts Center will present Recovery Justice: Being Well, a series of self-organized artist  workshops, panels and projects addressing wellbeing as key to civic health, one of the central guiding  principles of the City of Santa Monica. Dan S. Wang will facilitate Together in Contradiction: Asian  American Unity Now, a roundtable discussion on racial justice for Asian Americans. The Arts Learning  Lab @ Home will provide take-home art kits with supplies for workshops on the Mexican tradition of paper  flower-making, as well as other forms of art for self-care during these uncertain times. 

Love Letters in Light: Messages of Hope, Heartbreak, Resilience, and Love to a County on the  Mend, an installation with over 300 heartfelt and uplifting messages from local poets and artists, installed  at 10 Los Angeles County libraries in LED message boards produced by artist and curator Leila Hamidi with a group of five core writers that includes Victoria Chang, féi hernandez, Jerry Quickley, Yesika  Salgado and Imani Tolliver. Like slow, analog tweets emitted in light, Love Letters in Light  acknowledges the heartbreak of a county affected by the twin impact of a pandemic and a reckoning of  racialized violence. The hundreds of messages include contributions from the greater Los Angeles  community, who are invited to submit brief messages of love in 15 words or less at  Selected messages will be shared at one of the participating library locations.  

Artistic events and health and wellness experiences provide additional opportunities to connect through  mobile murals, live dance and music performances, cooking classes, healing meditations, art-making,  storytelling and much more, including the team of CicLAvia, LA’s beloved open streets event partnering  with the artists at Subsuelo for a music-powered bike ride tour of historic Central Ave.  

Additionally, Community Pop-Ups will support the greater Los Angeles community by offering resources  and supplies to those in need, including food banks and food drives, PPE distribution, COVID-19  education and outreach with an emphasis on access to testing and vaccination, distribution of hygiene  boxes to LGBTQ+ youth and art-based healing services to families and individuals impacted by violence  and trauma. 

Art Rise 

*begins May 7 

Art Rise is a series of 21 art experiences created in collaboration with museums, cultural institutions and  artists. Each work in the series uses the power of art toward collective wellbeing, health and  connectedness. Taking place across five neighborhoods (Downtown Los Angeles, Koreatown, Mid Wilshire, Leimert Park, South Central) and intended to be experienced as a whole, Art Rise is composed  of 18 art installations and three special projects in 14 locations, from 35 artists and collectives. All are  designed to be COVID-safe with socially distanced viewing and are easily accessible by foot, car or  Metro. 

Grand Park, powered by The Music Center, will present Grand Park’s Celebration Spectrum by  dublab, in collaboration with Tanya Aguiñiga and curator Mark “Frosty” McNeill. This month-long  public art installation, programming and digital experience reflects the multifaceted ways in which Los  Angeles County’s diverse populations express their joy with installations that will create space for all the  missed celebrations in Los Angeles during the last year. From May 1–31, 2021, Grand Park’s Celebration  Spectrum, a TMC Arts program, will transform the outdoor expanse of Grand Park into a deconstructed  party, unfolding in a progression of installations that represent the arc of an epic party. Responding to the  hurt and heightened anxieties associated with the pandemic, Grand Park’s Celebration Spectrum offers  the communities in Los Angeles the opportunity to heal and re-emerge, thanks to the transformative  power of the arts.  

LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes’ building will be transformed into a monumental neon mural by Patrick  Martinez with social-political messages addressing the plight and resilience of essential workers in Los  Angeles. Entitled Only Light Can Do That, after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s beloved sermon given in 1957  at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, the more than 25 new neon artworks at  this site-specific installation give recognition to essential workers as behind-the-scenes heroes who  champion representation and healing for all.  

The art collective Classroom of Compassion will mount a mixed-media installation and large-scale floral  altar titled Los Angeles, I hope u know how loved u are featuring photos and stories submitted by the  community to remember the many residents lost as a result of COVID-19, particularly in Latinx  communities disproportionately affected. The project in collaboration with The Mistake Room will be  installed in a truck wash lot in Downtown Los Angeles. 

LA Commons and artist Dominique Moody worked with associate artists and youth groups through a  series of five story circles in South LA to capture the narratives of residents in their neighborhoods. The  resulting “story portraits” will be human-scaled laser-cut metal sculptures that represent each of the  storytellers and located in the respective communities in which the storytellers reside, with the full series  of eight portraits on view outside of the California African American Museum.  

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) will transform part of its construction fence into an  exhibition wall. A series of commissioned works from five different artists – Scoli Acosta, Andy  Alexander, The Revolution School, Favianna Rodriguez and Kerry Tribe – will be displayed in vinyl  on the fence along Wilshire Boulevard. The selected artists used various strategies to communicate the  vast range of cognitive and affective processing styles that are encompassed within the human  experience.  

MOCA’s Little Tokyo location, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, will be the site of two projects with  partner organizations Crenshaw Dairy Mart and Los Angeles Poverty Department. Crenshaw Dairy  Mart’s abolitionist pod (prototype) will be a garden in the form of a geodesic dome—the first prototype for  a design the group hopes to implement across Los Angeles in an ambitious effort to create community  gardening and collective gathering spaces across the city. Los Angeles Poverty Department’s project  The New Compassionate Downtown is a performance with a cast of eleven performers who live and work  in Skid Row and imagines a vision of downtown that attracts people who value wisdom and compassion  instead of nightlife and dining.

As a soundtrack companion to Art Rise, REDCAT will present Sed (Thirst), a series of 16 sound works by  artists Dorian Wood and Carmina Escobar that connect and engage the various Art Rise sites across  Los Angeles.  

These and many other artworks and performances will be on view for free throughout May, along with  complementary digital experiences to bring people together for help, hope and healing. 

Digital Experience 

The Digital Experience features a full month of exciting virtual programs to foster connection, healing and  wellbeing. Easily accessible from home, these experiences are all community-centered and provide  opportunities for creative expression and mindfulness for all ages. Self-Care Connected Sundays will  offer workshops in yoga, roller skating, dance and drum circles that engage the LA County community in  COVID-safe and mental-health-positive activities. The groundbreaking organization Get Lit, which  increases literacy and empowers youth through poetry, will host a classic slam and a poetry workshop  and competition. Additionally, the Digital Experience will present Drag Queen Story Hour, music  performances with special guests and artists and a special Memorial Day event, as well as panels and  discussions on a range of topics, including the environment, racial justice and contending with and  healing from the isolation of the last year. The Digital Experience will also feature content related to both  Art Rise and the Community Pop-Ups.  

WE RISE 2021 adds to the wide variety of resources and services LACDMH provides. County residents  can find information and support 24/7 at and access the Help Line by calling 1-800- 854-7771 or texting “LA” to 741741. 

WE RISE 2021 will not have any live in-person events. When visiting WE RISE installations and projects,  please adhere to all CDC guidelines and safety protocols and take every safety precaution, including  social distancing and wearing masks. Please note, WE RISE partners may have limited attendance  events and will manage these in accordance with their individual protocols. 

For more information, visit for an event calendar and map. New events are continually being  added to the schedule. 



WE RISE encourages wellbeing and healing through art, connection, community engagement and  creative expression. Taking place during May: Mental Health Awareness Month, WE RISE 2021 includes  Art Rise, a series of twenty outdoor art installations; Community Pop-Ups, hyperlocal activities across  Los Angeles County neighborhoods; and a robust Digital Experience, offering original programs that can  be enjoyed from anywhere. All installations and activities are meant to be viewed from a distance,  individually or in small groups, in order to remain COVID-safe while still fostering community connection  and collective healing. 

An initiative of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, WE RISE is needed now more than  ever as the region emerges from the isolation of the global pandemic and continues to grapple with  related stressors and racial injustice. This is our opportunity to rise together. 


May 1 – May 31, 2021 

Various locations 

Please visit for event calendar. 




If you or a family member needs help, please call the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Help Line at (800) 854-7771 or text “LA” to 741741, available 24/7. Resources are also available at 


Emma Jacobson-Sive 

Lisa Bellamore 

About the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH) 

As the nation’s largest public mental health department, we ensure access to care and treatment for our  most vulnerable residents in a region with more than 10 million people. With an annual budget  approaching $3 billion and a committed staff of 6,000, LACDMH embodies a “heart-forward” approach to  supporting hope, recovery and wellbeing across the county. For more information on LACDMH, visit or follow @LACDMH on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. 


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