Sugar Land seeks artists to decorate mental health boxes

SUGAR LAND, Texas -- In a partnership with To Write Love on Her Arms-a nonprofit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicidal thoughts-the city of Sugar Land is looking for local artists to help decorate small wooden information boxes containing information on free mental health resources. The boxes will be placed throughout the city, located next to positive messages embellishing the sidewalks.

"This project came about in response to two community needs," said Suzanne Gray, the city's cultural arts manager. "COVID-19 not only affected businesses' bottom lines but many people's mental health. Nationally, suicide completion rates have surged to a 30-year high. Grant funding from Fort Bend County became available, and the city saw an opportunity to pair support for our businesses, the creative sector, and mental health through this project."

The invitation for artists to submit their proposals will last until July 9, with the selected artists notified by July 16. If selected, artists will receive a box from the city to be painted and delivered to the city by Aug. 30 and a $500 honorarium. A committee will select the artists, who will each paint boxes to be displayed in various locations-also to be selected by the committee throughout Sugar Land. At this point, the project will yield a minimum of five boxes, which city officials said will be designed to distribute information across Sugar Land in the hopes of reaching people in a time of need.

"It's a unique approach, but one that fits in with Sugar Land residents' expressed interest in public art to beautify the city," Gray said. "This project enables us to provide that while also making mental health materials readily available to everyone."

City officials encourage both professional artists and hobbyists to apply, noting that the scope of the invitation is limited to local and regional artists-defined by city officials as living or working within a 70-mile radius of Sugar Land. Additionally, artists may apply for more than one commission-but may not apply in the form of teams.

To apply, artists must submit a letter of interest no more than 500 words in length. Artists can submit up to five different design concepts for consideration. Furthermore, artists must submit a list of needed materials, a sketch of their design, and examples of their previous work. All submissions must be provided to the city digitally.

This story comes from our ABC13 partners at Community Impact Newspapers.