CRY 2022

An intergenerational collective promoting equitable mental health care.

About the show

In an effort to build community power and make space for youth voices PhillyCAM will exhibit teen activist collective Creative Resilient Youth ( CRY) From June 20 to September 15. The exhibit sheds a light on youth experiences with mental health and strategies to respond to injustices in care.

CRY is an intergenerational collective promoting equitable mental health care for young people in Philadelphia. CRY’s teen artists engage in a two-year program of co-learning, socially-engaged art-making, and leadership training. The TAKEOVER event series is the culmination of a new cohort of young artists’ first year in CRY.

Events during the PhillyCAM TAKEOVER exhibition include a panel discussion on Thursday, June 30 from 4:30-7:00 PM to bring the current cohort of CRY teen artists in conversation with representatives from previous generations of the program, which was initiated by the Creative Resilience Collective in 2018.

CRY TAKEOVER 2022 exhibits artwork created by 11 emerging Philadelphia-area artists. After six months of exploring self-care, artmaking, and social critique in CRY, these teens highlight important opportunities for intergenerational community dialogue about mental health care and chances for collaborative action to improve outcomes for them and their peers.

Please contact if you are interested in purchasing a piece of art.

CRY Artist 

Ali Islam

“Cool Jamz Vol. 1” is a photo series that tries to capture the idea of feeling like your own main character. Commuting over 1.5-2 hours each day to and from school leaves Ali a lot of time on public transportation. Listening to music on the way and back from school is not only soothing but helps him feel like the main character of his own story. The time commuting and listening to music also gives him time to debrief and reflect on his day. Music and time give him a chance to process emotions rather than take them out on others. He believes everyone uses music in different ways and wanted to capture this idea through his photos.

Ali Islam is a photographer and a designer.
Title: Cool Jamz Vol. 1
Medium: Photography

Ayah Pearson-McCoy

“Is that really me?” is a painting depicting a teen looking into a mirror and seeing a monster instead of their usual self. They feel gross like something’s wrong but they’re not exactly sure what. This could be due to, skin issues, scarring, or even some mental health challenges. Many teens experience a feeling like this and Ayah’s work aims to help them feel less alone.

Ayah Pearson-McCoy is a 16-year-old artist who identifies with cute things like cats along with scary things like monsters with no faces. She strives to create art that will make people feel fuzzy and warm one moment and sleepy with the lights on in the next.

Title: Is that really me?
Medium: Oil on canvas

El-Veta Oakman

“Lines of reflection” is a series of paintings by a teen that reflects four lives through their eyes.  The lines shown in the paintings aren’t perfect and they’re not supposed to be. The focus of this art piece is on the way the lines are made. Some lines start straight, while some start off curvy. Life isn’t perfect. It has its ups and downs. The four teens that were included in the project described their line in ways that might be relatable to yourself or your experiences in your life.

El-Veta Oakman is a 17-year-old multitalented artist who’s into drawing, painting, photography, and more. Her art takes the form of abstract drawings. Her artwork comes from what’s in her mind. It could be random lines or an idea. Her favorite subject in school is art and history. She’s a junior in high school at Mariana Bracetti Academy and will be graduating in Spring 2023. As of right now, she wants to major in fine arts and art history in college. As excited as she is for this step in life, she is scared. But CRY has taught her that not everyone is what you expect them to be.

Title: Lines of reflection
Medium: Acrylic and oil on canvas

Kenzie Wright

“Open” is a stylized 3D self-portrait. This sculpture is meant to represent the things in life that bring Kenzie comfort and happiness.

Kenzie hopes that people will see this piece and find similar things that bring them joy.

McKenzie Wright is a 17-year-old queer artist who mainly focuses on their work on the human figure. She works on things that make her happy.

Kenzie is very nervous about sharing their art out into the world, but also feels a lot of excitement.

When she started CRY she was super anxious about all the new people she’d be around, and she’s grown a lot in the short amount of time at CRY.

Title: Open
Medium: Earthenware clay and mixed media

Mehreen Khan 

“My space” is a painting that represents the state of mind the artist wishes to inhabit.

Mehreen Khan is an aspiring gardener. This is her first painting and she wishes to continue her painting journey as a hobby.

She is an avid reader and draws inspiration from images she pictures as she reads.

Title: My space
Medium: Acrylic on canvas

Melanie Resendiz-Morales

“Esperanza” is a painting about self-reflection and hope for time and space to grow. It is a piece about needing to accept every past version of yourself while working to accept your present self and being aware that there is no limit to your capabilities or potential for growth.

Melanie Resendiz-Morales is an experimental Hispanic artist working and adapting to any medium that is put in front of her. Her preferred mediums are painting, photography, and collages. Art is how she visualizes and expresses herself. She wants the viewer to work and acknowledge their feelings while looking at an art piece and connect with others. Art has helped her fully understand herself mentally and physically by fully being intact with any type of emotion and putting that in art.

Title: Esperanza
Medium: Acrylic on canvas

Raniyah Lawrence-Ashford

“World of Darkness, Door to Light” is a collection of poems that demonstrates not only the dark times I have been through that caused me to have trauma but the hope that stands at end of those dark moments. My poem also shows how those experiences shaped my perspective. I want people to see my poetry as a way of me telling my story and to get an understanding of what it feels like to be in my shoes. My poetry strongly expresses my emotions and how I feel about my experiences. My goal is for people that view my art to acknowledge the trauma they have been through and know that they have outlets to express themselves in the ways that make them comfortable... And let that comfortable space being the hope for them.

Raniyah Lawrence-Ashford has always been a set on person to explore things and be creative in her own mind. She has always had this different view of the world and made her own sense of it. She loves going out into nature and photographing the new things she discovers in the world. Going through rough patches growing up, Raniyah didn’t have the outlets to express herself. That led her emotions to build up inside. As she grew older, she started to dive more into who she was, and while doing so she was blessed to be exposed to the outlet of writing and then eventually poetry. Through her poetry she hopes to not just be creative but to also impact others with the light of inspiration she brings within her poetry. This has become her main medium of art. Raniyah is open to trying all types of art eventually in the hopes of discovering new ways to express herself.

Title: World of Darkness, Door to Light
Medium: Poetry

Sianni M. Strickland 

“The Princess and Her Sword” is an original story of overcoming past trauma. Where the main character heals from it in a healthy way, causing a positive growth. Accompanied with an artistic visual.

Sianni is a passionate 16-year-old who isn't great at communicating her emotions, therefore she expresses it through art. Mainly this is done through her writing, whether it be a good story or a lyrical poem. She often comes across as shy yet this doesn’t stop her from trying her hand at other things such as singing, painting, dancing, acting, and photography. Sianni isn’t a talkative kind of person, instead, she’s more attuned to listening to those around her. A truly kind soul who takes pride in her racial identity. But when it comes to those she loves she can be as fatal as she is beautiful.

Title: The Princess and Her Sword
Medium: Creative writing and acrylic on canvas

Sophia Mogollan-Pinto

“A picture can say a thousand words” is a painting that visualizes the artist and other youth mindsets. This painting seeks to express feelings that many youth don’t know how to describe.

Sophia Mogollan Pinto is a 14-year-old that uses all sorts of media to express their awkward self. They mainly like to do drawing and painting but today they are trying something new!! They are interested in old renaissance paintings and modern art.

Title: A picture can say a thousand words
Medium: Acrylic on canvas

Yusra Khan

“Ignite” is an acrylic painting on canvas.

Yusra Khan is a 16-year-old artist, who likes to experiment with new mediums and styles that she is not familiar with.

Title: Ignite
Medium: Acrylic on canvas

Zamir Geiger

“Bizarre” is a two sides cardboard piece. One side expresses the way the artist sees the world through a bunch of doodles and art and drawings. The other side shows the emotions mental health gives off.

Zamir Geiger is a 17-year-old graphic digital and traditional artist who grew up around many inspirations but never noticed them until his art journey began. He believes that anyone can draw if they give it a shot and draw the way they feel and see fit.

Title: Bizarre
Medium: Marker on cardboard


Stay connected!


Creative Resilience Collective is a health justice organization based in Philadelphia. We partner with underserved communities and advocates looking to combat stigma and improve access to self-determined mental health care.

We believe our collective agency can create positive change in care systems, leading to more equitable futures. We do this through educational workshops, study groups, critical writing, public art, youth programs, and the building of local tools and resources to shape the evolution of dignified care.


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