Exhibit features artwork of people with mental health illnesses
EVERETT - People living with mental health illnesses will get a chance to show their art before the public in an upcoming show.
The Schack Art Center will host the works of more than 30 people living with a mental health illness in a show called “Expressions.” The show runs from Sept. 4 to Sept. 30. A reception and grand opening will be from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15. People with mental health illnesses can contribute art through Thursday, Aug. 30.
The show features art work from people in prison, and people affiliated with the Snohomish County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Compass Health and other services.
Show supporter Denise LeBlanc of Marysville hopes this show starts a public conversation about mental health issues. She wants to create a studio in Snohomish County where people living with mental health illnesses can make art. She is working on finding grant money to kick start the studio.
LeBlanc admits it’s an ambitious project, but she is working with NAMI and is already trying to form a board for the studio. She’s in talks with Everett’s 3231 Creatives on Broadway to put the studio there, she said.
Mental health patients often face a vicious cycle of depression induced in part by isolation. Their confidence is sapped by mental illness affecting their day-to-day life. Art can rebuild people’s confidence, and LeBlanc said she’s seen it happen.
“They gain a more positive confidence in that outlet,” LeBlanc said. “They say, ‘I can do art, I want to share it’,” LeBlanc said.
LeBlanc spent years working with special education students who have mental health issues.
“What I have found is a lot of people don’t think they have artistic talent … coming to a program to introduce them to art in a positive way (gives) them the freedom to do anything,” LeBlanc said. “There are no mistakes in art.”
There are scientifically proven health benefits to art, LeBlanc said; there is an entire field called artistic therapy, which looks at how art helps develop personalities.
“It’s therapy for some, spirituality for others,” NAMI Snohomish County president Jim Bloss said.
A sizable percentage of inmates live with mental health illnesses, studies show. Many of the pieces in the show came from people at the DOC’s Everett Community Justice Center. The show’s lead organizer, Andrea Holmes, works with mental health patients at the facility.
The Schack Art Center is located at 2921 Hoyt Ave. Organizers hope to make the show an annual event.
To contribute art before Thursday, Aug. 30, call lead organizer Andrea Holmes at 425-513-5182.
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