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Stigma and Survival

Normalizing the Discussion Surrounding Opioid Abuse

Stigma and Survival focuses on substance use disorder and the stigma that surrounds it. My sister died of an opioid overdose. I wonder if she would still be alive if it were not for the stigma. Stigma suffocates discussion, blocks action, causes pain.


My sister OD’d but, maybe to the millions affected, I can be part of a solution. Stigma is the place to start. Stigma suffocates discussion, blocks action and causes pain. I want to use my art to normalize the discussion and to help erase the stigma.

Now the following is one possibility. The exhibition of art starts on the curved walls in the lobby with two to five seven-foot paintings and then flows into the McMahon Gallery where the exhibition could consist of seven or eight additional large-scale paintings along with six or more digital-hybrid slide shows on artist supplied large HDTV displays.

I am pretty flexible with more than 50 digital-hybrid paintings and more than 20 seven-foot tall paintings. While I think having the show flow from the curved lobby walls into the McMahon Gallery could be effective, I realize that this might not be possible and so I can certainly create an interesting and innovative exhibit in just the McMahon.


I envision possibly expanding the show to include digital-hybrid paintings as part of the pre-show projections in the Boedecker Theater. I would also encourage a concurrent and thematically related exhibit created by the Creative Nations Collective.

I prefer that this exhibition occur during the school year so that students can participate and to avoid conflicts with another exhibit of mine in June and July 2023. 


In addition, I am working with AIM House and MadeLife here in Boulder on a potential art related event and there may be an opportunity to incorporate some of this programing at the Dairy, however it might simply be more effective for this to be a separate off-site event not tied to the Dairy. 



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  They Have Faces


Of course, it is never just one person that is impacted, and it is never simply an isolated instance. The faces in the exhibit reflect the faces of those affected.  


I listen to the stories - families and communities devastated. It is all there - terror, intolerance, indifference, guilt, shame and helplessness as well as resilience, resolve, forgiveness, love and hope. 


People respond and promise action. Some thank me simply for acknowledging them - I exist. I am not alone. Others talk of finally starting that intervention.

I want the message to flow out into the community. I want these paintings, along with associated presentations and discussions to start conversations, to cause people to respond and maybe feel the emotion and ultimately to take action before it is too late - to be part of the solution.

More About the Exhibit and Art

The videos were each created from several digital hybrid paintings. Each one is a repurposed high-resolution image of my own large-scale unfinished paintings, in-process work or original digital drawings which I finished on my iPad. I add a range of new elements and enhancements which may include various marks, masks and graphic overlays to the base image which I then reproduce as an individual image or video. They are prepared for HD display on TV monitors or as projections as large as theater screens.


The interval between images is variable. I like it to be around three minutes. The samples in my Cafe portfolio are only 6 seconds so you can quickly see the entire slide show video. My intention is to have six or more, artist supplied, 55 inch monitors with a total of between 24 to 48 different images randomly rotating through the monitors.

Here are a few ideas to expand the programing should this be of interest to you. I have several potential collaborators including two award winning documentary filmmakers and Dr. Nora Volkow - Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Schedule permitting, Dr. Volkow has indicated an interest in participating, schedule permitting, with my exhibition as a featured speaker and/or panelist. The documentaries, both related to opioid use disorder, could be shown in one of the Dairy theaters as part of this exhibition. 


I am available for one or more artist talks/panels related to art and stigma, and art and the brain.  

Here is a link to a catalog from the most recent exhibition.

Here is a link to some of the media related to my art, Stigma and Survival and my collaborations. 

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