Two local artists recently opened “#IfYouCouldSeeMe,” a collaborative art exhibition exploring the faces behind mental health diagnoses.

Author, speaker and entertainer Erin Lessin Mahone joined with photographer Dean Whitbeck to create the multimedia project, combining powerful, large-scale photographs with storytelling to help viewers look beyond surface judgments to see diverse and vibrant people living with mental health conditions.

With the show, Mahone is building on her storytelling series, “It Runs in the Family,” to empower people to tell their own stories. One photograph in the show is of former Richmonder Malik Hodari, a Vietnam War veteran and attorney with post-traumatic stress disorder. Another is of Mahone, who has depression and anxiety disorder. In the image, she is laughing. “There’s more to me than depression,” she said. “I can still smile.”

In explaining the title’s hashtag, she said, “Hashtags are so representative of the different ways in which people connect to one another nowadays and how like-minded people find each other. We hope it will become a global visual reminder of us learning to see each other more deeply.”

The show runs through July 11 at Crossroads Art Center, 2016 Staples Mill Road. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

For details, call the center at (804) 278-8950 or visit www.crossroadsartcenter.com. Also visit the artists’ websites at www.erinmahone.com and www.dean whitbeck.com.

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— Jo Lord

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