By Soomin “Arden” Jeon, Staff Writer

Yari “Aeslene” J. Mena, Gamma Chapter sister who crossed in spring 2016, exemplifies the true meaning behind “follow your heart, but take your brain with you,” her favorite quote by Alfred Adler – a doctor, therapist, and founder of Adlerian psychology.

“I was doubting my (psychology) major at the time… I just wasn’t feeling it,” Mena thought all throughout her undergraduate years.

Mena’s current career path delves into studio art with a concentration in drawing and painting which recognizes her inner artistic potential.

Despite many who criticized Mena’s decision, she knew art was calling her name. With the help and support of family, friends, and sorority sisters, especially her big sister, Courtney “Seraphina” Escorza, Mena changed her major to studio art, with a concentration in drawing and painting. Mena chose art to voice her opinions and experiences and to raise awareness about mental illnesses.

“I pushed away art thinking I just needed to ‘grow up’… but it hit me that I would always need art when I realized my depression would never really go away,” Mena said. “Frida Kahlo and Van Gogh, turned their emotional or physical pain into beautiful creations.”

Yari "Aeslene" Mena wearing the "Untimed" t-shirt she designed.

Yari “Aeslene” Mena wearing the “Untimed” t-shirt she designed.

Mena knew art was a coping mechanism to deal with her depression ever since she was nine years old. Granted, her artworks depict images of her personal experiences and the self. Of the many, her first t-shirt design, called “Untimed,” received many commendations.

The inspiration for the t-shirt started with Mena taking an introduction to printmaking class and was furthered by her little sister, Jarleen “Éterea” Dong.

“My little actually picked those colors,” Mena said. “I was experimenting with a ton of colors in class, and I do make t-shirts in other colors as well! The YBG (yellow/blue/green) scheme has to be my favorite so far though because of the warm and cool colors in it. My little Éterea deserves credit for that one.

“The design itself is of two identical women back-to-back watching the sunset. But the sun is a clock that’s falling apart. The two women can either be twins or since they’re mirroring each other, they can be the same person ‘reflecting’.

“There are extra marks on the woman, like hatch marks. While they help with the woman’s form, they are also (to me) scars, hinting that maybe she’s just been through some things.

“It’s mostly a message of hope. The woman is sitting/resting – you don’t know where she’s been or where she’s going and she may not know either, but time doesn’t stop. And new days will keep coming. I had a friend tell me time doesn’t heal all wounds but acceptance will. So I thought maybe with time, acceptance will come? We don’t know how much time we have so we can’t really put a timer on it, but it’ll happen eventually. And we will make it through.”

Mena has showcased her art at several exhibitions. In September, she showed her art at the Salsa for You event hosted by Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, Inc. For Hispanic Heritage Month, a piece of her artwork was displaced at the Georgia State University Student Center for the entire month of October. Positive feedback at these exhibition opportunities makes Mena proud.

Art is one of the fundamental resources to cope with the troubles we deal with in our everyday lives; it broadens our perspectives and keeps us sane in this insane world. One of the main factors that keeps Mena motivated is her understanding that art is something she can keep constant in her life.

“It’s something that I know will always be part of me, and I want it to be a good part,” she said.

After all, we just need people like Mena to remind us that there is hope for everyone. Just remember to follow your heart – against all odds.

If you want to support Mena, more information about the T-shirt can be found here. All payments can be made through Venmo @Yari-Mena. 


Featured and Article Images: Yari Mena