Willow Smith Is Spending 24 Hours In A Box To Turn Her Anxiety Into Art

by : Emily Brown on : 11 Mar 2020 16:29
Willow Smith Is Spending 24 Hours In A Box To Turn Her Anxiety Into ArtPA Images/Willow Smith/Instagram

Willow Smith is getting ready to spend 24 hours in a box as part of a performance art piece focused around her anxiety. 

The display will kick off this evening, March 11, at 9pm PST (4am GMT) at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Geffen Contemporary in Los Angeles.


In the performance, Willow will be joined by her creative collaborator Tyler Cole, who also lives with anxiety. Willow has suffered with her mental health since she was a young girl, with her anxiety stemming from feeling out of control.

Now 19 years old, the singer is planning to display her anxiety from inside the box, where audience members will be able to watch as she and Tyler cycle through eight emotional states: paranoia; rage; sadness; numbness; euphoria; strong interest; compassion; and acceptance.

The box is made up of one glass wall and three composed of canvas, on which the two performers plan to paint and write affirmations.


In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Willow spoke about how her anxiety was in part caused by a fear of the unknown, and made reference to the death of Kobe Bryant.

She explained:

We’re on this planet and anything could happen, like the thing that just happened with Kobe [Bryant]? That was really a knife in the heart.

Every moment is precious. And I think everyone has a fear of just not knowing what’s going to happen in the future, not knowing if you’re on the right path, not knowing if you’re making the right choices.

Willow SmithPA Images

Willow and Tyler plan to spend three hours demonstrating each emotional state, and while they don’t intend to speak they may ‘grunt or scream’, as Willow explained the performance is going to be ‘very primal’.

The pair can leave the box for bathroom breaks, which will be limited to two minutes. Audience members will only be able to watch Willow and Tyler live for 15 minutes, but after exiting visitors will be welcome to hang around in a room with a video feed, self-help books and stations to donate to mental health organisations.

The entire performance will also be livestreamed online.


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// Coming 3/13/20

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Following the performance, Willow and Tyler will release their joint album The Anxiety. 

Speaking of how they came up with the idea to create an art piece, Willow said:

We were like, ‘Wouldn’t it be so interesting if we could personify this experience? Starting from being scared and feeling alone and moving to a place of acceptance and joy?’

We understand this is a very sensitive subject. And we don’t want to be like, ‘Our experience is the experience.’ This is just us expressing our personal experience with this.


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// Coming 2020

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Willow went on to explain how she hopes people will be inspired by the piece, saying:

This is not so that people are like, ‘Oooh!’ This is for awareness.

The first thing we’re going to be writing on our title wall is something along the lines of: ‘The acceptance of one’s fears is the first step toward understanding.’ So then you know this is on something real. This is for a real cause.

I’ve learned so much from being in the public eye that you really can’t care what people think. You have to do art because you want to do it and because it inspires you. And whoever likes it? Amazing! And whoever doesn’t? Amazing!

I’m doing this because I’m inspired by this idea and I see that anxiety around me is an epidemic and people don’t talk about it. And so as long as it’s bringing awareness and a positive light to the darkness, it doesn’t matter if you don’t enjoy it.

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↺ ‘Twas a vibe ↻ being sold on

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Willow and Tyler haven’t rehearsed anything for the performance, though they have decided what they will be painting on the walls.

When the performance begins, you can watch it live on Twitch.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Celebrity, Los Angeles, Mental Health, Will Smith, Willow Smith


Los Angeles Times
  1. Los Angeles Times

    Why Willow Smith will be trapped in a box for 24 hours at MOCA