Art exhibition helps mark holistic wellness center’s recent opening in Gayborhood

 A community holistic wellness center last week celebrated its relocation into the heart of the Gayborhood by opening its first art exhibition.

Emerge Wellness is a psychotherapy agency that focuses on gay-affirming approaches to mental health. In keeping with its holistic approach, Emerge offers treatments that go beyond the standard therapy sessions, such as massage and crystal therapy.

The exhibition features work by 10 Philadelphia-area artists, most of whom are LGBTQ. It explores the ideas of personal growth and self-actualization.

Founded in 2015 by Kristina Furia, Emerge Wellness moved to its current location at 1221 Locust St. in November. Furia said that being located conveniently in the heart of the Gayborhood fits in well with the overall gay-affirming approach the organization takes in its services. (Note: Furia is the author of the “Thinking Queerly” column that appears regularly in PGN.)

The founder said she hopes that EW’s new location will serve as a community resource above and beyond its function as a wellness center, offering services and facilities similar to those offered by William Way Community Center. But while William Way’s focus is primarily in the realm of social, historical and political community, EW’s focus will be on activities that promote mental and physical wellness.

“I believe that mental health is dependent on physical wellness,” Furia said. “And the reverse is just as true.”

Last week, EW opened its first art exhibition, centered on the theme “Personal Psychology.” The exhibition was curated by T.J. Walsh, one of EW’s therapists and an artist in his own right.

Walsh eventually plans to present upwards of four exhibitions each year, with the belief that artistic expression is an important tool in processing emotional issues for the artist and the observer.

“The process of creating is an intimate practice,” he said in a statement. “Art-making is a meditative, reflective, physical, emotional and spiritual practice. Creating something that comes out of ourselves, releasing part of us into the world to be experienced by others is something that many people in our culture do not experience. This intimate practice of pulling from within and connecting with the deepest parts of our beings is beautiful because it’s natural, pure and uninhibited. It’s being human on one of its most raw levels.”

For this inaugural exhibition, Walsh drew on artists he personally knew. For future exhibits, however, he plans to issue open calls for submissions from the community.

Walsh, who identifies as bisexual, has included several of his own works in the exhibition. He said painting helps him deal with the emotional stresses that come after long days of dealing with clients’ problems. He described it as “emotional palate cleansing.”

“Personal Psychology” will be on display through the end of May. For more information about the exhibit or Emerge Wellness, visit