Stigma and Survival
Normalizing the Discussion Surrounding Opioid Abuse
Stigma and Survival is a traveling exhibition with related discussions intent on normalizing the dialog and quashing the stigma surrounding opioid abuse. Exhibit size is scalable with considerable exhibit art available to solve a sudden cancelation or to be scheduled in the future. Concurrent exhibitions are possible.
My sister Emma died from an opioid overdose on October 2, 2012. She was 57 years old and struggled with drugs and alcohol for most of her life.
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, causes pain. I want to use my art to normalize the discussion and to help erase the stigma.
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.
The Physical Exhibit
Stigma and Survival had its large-scale trial run and premier in 2018 in a large industrial warehouse in Boulder, Colorado. It then moved to the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in June of 2019. Following this it opened in Atlanta at the Lowe Gallery. Because of COVID, postponed exhibits at the Foothills Art Center and the University of Colorado were rescheduled and opened as concurrent and co-promoted exhibitions in the second half of 2021.
All of these exhibits varied in size but all retained the same or similar core paintings. At the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, this exhibit occupied approximately 230 linear feet of wall space with 30 paintings. In Atlanta, it occupied more than 400 linear feet with 50 paintings.
The Foothills Art Center exhibit featured more than 20 paintings, digital art and a multi-media presentation on approximately 200 linear feet and the University of Colorado - Fulginiti Gallery included 12 seven-foot paintings and a multi-media presentation on approximately 120 linear feet. These events also featured panel discussions and lectures all focused on addiction and stigma.
With an inventory of more than 60 paintings, 20 digital projections and videos, Sigma and Survival is expandable beyond 700 linear feet. Alternately, a core of key paintings as well as digital projections and video presentations can be displayed in as little as 30 linear feet. This exhibit is flexible and can be installed quickly and easily in a non-traditional space if current gallery capacity is booked.