Creative 360 will open the multi artist exhibit Breaking the Stigma: Art as a Bridge to Understanding, Empathy, and Acceptance on Friday, January 7, 2022 at 7 pm in the Bayliss Street Gallery. The show features more than 35 pieces representing the use of art to express and explain physical, mental, and emotional illness, trauma and challenge.
Artist David Feingold, one of the featured artists and author of the book Stigma: Through the Eyes of a Bipolar Artist, writes that his artwork began as personal, self-therapy. He soon grew to realize that his work could bring attention to the inner struggle of those with mental illness. “I am particularly interested in breaking the stigma of mental illness and bringing attention to the inner struggles and challenges of those with disabilities to public awareness,” he wrote about his work at the Manhattan Arts International exhibit in 2016.
Other artists in the exhibit include Rebecca Allen, Cynthia Keefe and Allise Noble. Allen, a 3 dimensional artist, suffers from the long term effects of Lyme’s disease which have confined her to a wheelchair. Her art transcends the physical limitations brought on by her condition, exploring the emotional effects of depression and suppression and people’s reactions to being suppressed.
Keefe and Noble currently teach art classes for Creative 360 – Keefe drawing and Noble a variety of painting and mixed media classes. Noble is also the Coordinator for the Express Yourself Artshop program at Creative 360. She sees art as an important tool for communication and a way for the artist to make themselves known. “My art allows for transparency and vulnerability that can be easier for others to understand than words alone could express,” she said of her work.
Keefe’ work – a series of figures she refers to as Goddesses – began with the creation of her grandmother as a matriarchal figure. Keefe starts by creating the heads of the figures in clay and she then roams the woods to find the natural materials to complete the statues. For Keefe, the process of finding the perfect sticks, rocks and bones in nature is as cathartic as the actual creation of the figures, each of which represents a strong female presence.
“We are privileged to be able to share the deeply personal works of these artists,” said executive director Laura Vosejpka. “This show speaks very strongly to our mission of creating safe and supportive environments where all people can experience the creative process. One way to have that creative experience is to immerse yourself in the work of another.”
“This exhibit has been a long time in the making,” remarked Curator and Program Director Colleen Reed. “We had originally planned to have it open in the early spring of 2020, but of course COVID changed those plans. We know how important this work is to both the artists and to the community and we are so pleased that we can finally share it.”
The exhibit opens on Friday with a reception at 7 pm. The event is free and open to the public and donations in support of this policy are gratefully welcomed. It is on display until February 20, 2022.