The Art of Recovery

By KRISTINE MORRIS, Grand Traverse Insider Contributing Writer

‘Human Journey’ exhibit reflects artists’ resilience and courage

A community celebration and Opening Reception for the exhibit, “Art of Recovery: The Human Journey,” will be held from 3-7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, at the Inside Out Gallery, 229 Garland, in Traverse City’s Warehouse District.

Northern Lakes Community Mental Health (CMH) sponsors the annual event as a community celebration of the resiliency, courage and creativity of the artists whose works will be on exhibit.

Live music will be provided by the musical group Hammer’d Dulcimer from 4-5:30 p.m. and Blake Elliott will perform from 5:30-7 p.m. The public is welcome and there is no charge to attend. The show will continue through Nov. 25.

“This is the seventh year we are presenting this show at the Inside Out Gallery to help illustrate that we’re all in this journey together,” said Cynthia Petersen, Northern Lakes CMH Community Provider Relations Coordinator and one of the event organizers. “We have seen such tremendous support and appreciation for the artists from their families and the community that attends each year; it really is a celebration focused on the artwork and creativity of the artists, and not the challenges they may be facing.

“Northern Lakes CMH recognizes that everyone may experience difficulties at one time or another, and believes in the important role that creative self-expression can play in recovery and how sharing a creative product may give hope to another person,” she added.

The professional and amateur artists participating in the annual exhibit are required to be residents of northwest lower Michigan who are in recovery, whether they have experienced a mental illness, physical illness, grief or loss, substance abuse, violence, divorce, or other trauma.

“Over and over, people have told us that when they incorporate creative endeavors into their daily lives, they become empowered and embrace recovery as a lifestyle, gaining self- acceptance, letting go of self-stigma and gaining confidence,” said Deb Freed, of Freed Communications. “It’s gratifying to be part of an event that celebrates the healing power and resiliency of people. I find it very uplifting to see them step out of their comfort zone and thrive.”

Participating artist Suzanne Hogan of Traverse City agreed.

“Having been accepted into this show has motivated me to do more art work, and I’m thrilled to have been included in the show,” she said. Hogan grew up in Ann Arbor and moved north in 2000. “I’ve been creating art since 1965, and took an art course at the University of Michigan during the 1980s with a very good instructor. I’ve also had the help of my best friend, who is an artist.

“Creating a work of art takes a lot of focusing, and the kind of focus that’s required has helped me in my recovery. Beginning a project and carrying it through to a finished artwork brings me so much pleasure – it’s very validating,” she added.

Organizers say that last year’s event was “the best yet,” with hundreds of people attending the opening and many others visiting the show throughout the month.

“Many artists participated, showcasing their journey of recovery through art, and many connections and friendships were made which we hope will continue into the future,” said Petersen. “We all have struggles, and it’s wonderful to realize that we are resilient and that we are all in this journey together.”

Northern Lakes CMH serves more than 4,000 adults with mental illness, 1,000 children with serious emotional disturbance and 800 individuals with an intellectual/developmental disability in six northern Michigan counties.

In addition, Northern Lakes CMH’s Northern Health Care Management division is one of 14 MI-Choice Waiver regions in Michigan, coordinating home and community-based services for the elderly and disabled in 10 counties.

The article may be viewed at Grand Traverse Insider.