Illuminated Collage

A finished illuminated collage by the Clay Center team on a window overlooking Boston

A project by Elisa H. Hamilton in partnership with The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds.

The Illuminated Collage uses participatory art making as a creative way to increase knowledge about mental health. Through this activity, we make it easier to talk about everyday feelings, including emotional challenges, and combat the stigma that prevents us from seeking support and leading our fullest lives.

A collage is a type of art that is made up of lots of different pieces. Whether at home or in a classroom, you’ll make this collage with young people, each person adding their own unique pieces to the whole. By sharing feelings together through art, we create an entry point for conversations about mental health, and bring these feelings out of the shadows and into the light!

Get Started – Download a Guide


Have you created an Illuminated Collage? Share feedback here. Share images on social media with #illuminatedcollage. Tag us on Instagram (@mghclaycenter and @elisahhamilton) or Facebook (@massgeneralclaycenter).  

What’s Stigma?

An "Illuminated Collage" by the Clay Center Team

Collage by the Clay Center Team

In short, stigma is the result of negative stereotypes about certain groups of people. People who are labeled negatively often experience fear, shame, or even discrimination that keeps them from seeking connections and support. Mental health stigma can cause individuals struggling with a mental or behavioral health challenge to not seek help, and to separate themselves from others. Stigma can also lead to loss of self-esteem and make it difficult for individuals struggling with a mental health challenge to make friends.

​Some methods for reducing stigma include education, or “myth-busting,” having open conversations about mental health, and public awareness campaigns (Heads Together, Seize the Awkward), that help to make stigma visible. If we can see it, we can combat it.

About the Project

Illuminating Mental Health is the result of an 8-month partnership between multimedia artist Elisa H. Hamilton and The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds. Ms. Hamilton and the Clay Center worked in collaboration to create a prototype that will reduce stigma surrounding mental health issues.

The Illuminating Mental Health model seeks to activate conversations about mental health by making it visible, providing an entry point to conversations about mental health through participatory art making. The Illuminated Collage workshop and activity programs aim to:

  1. Normalize conversations about mental health
  2. Provide a collaborative, creative vehicle for identifying, expressing, and sharing feelings
  3. Create a visually compelling, physical representation of mental health
  4. Educate about mental health

Tune in to our podcast for a convo with Elisa Hamilton about the project. 

Visit the original Illuminating Mental Health website here.

The Illuminated Collage Home Activity Guide video was produced by Herman Servatius.

The information provided on the Illuminating Mental Health webpage and in the Illuminated Collage workshop and activity guides is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical, health care, or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on this webpage is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified healthcare professional. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your healthcare provider.