Art for Hope/Stigma and Survival
This exhibition focuses on substance use disorder and the stigma that surrounds it. My sister died of an opioid overdose. She might still be alive if it were not for prescription opioids and the stigma which suffocates discussion, blocks action and causes pain.
My sister OD’d but, maybe to the millions affected, I can be part of a solution. I want to use my art to normalize the discussion and to help erase the stigma and so I create a forum for not only the victims, witnesses and survivors of SUD but also for medical practitioners, government administrators, legal professionals and elected officials.
They Have Faces
It is never just one person that is impacted, and so the faces in the exhibit reflect the faces of all those affected.
I listen to the stories - families and communities devastated. It is all there - terror, intolerance, 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. (No one deserves to do this alone.) Others talk of finally starting that intervention. Many come for the art but stay for the message.
I want these exhibitions, along with associated presentations, panel discussions, handouts and participation by kindred organizations, to start conversations, to cause people to respond and feel the emotion and ultimately to take action before it is too late - to normalize the discussion and then to be part of the solution.
The Physical Exhibit
Universities, museums, art centers, galleries and other venues usually have their schedules fully booked well in advance. However, there are instances when unexpected openings occur, and in such cases, I am quick to respond with a variety of options for exhibitions. I have also successfully displayed my work in unconventional locations on campus, temporary galleries, warehouses, lobbies, theaters and other atypical spaces. This exhibit is designed to be adaptable and can be adjusted in scale. It has been showcased in different formats on ten occasions.
Here are a few examples of its various formats: Currently, at the University of Wisconsin - Stout, the exhibit occupies around 230 feet of wall space, featuring 14 seven-foot paintings and 10 digital monitors. This is about 1700 sq. ft. in a two room gallery space.
At the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, the exhibit covered approximately 250 linear feet of wall space and showcased 30 paintings. The Lowe Gallery in Atlanta hosted the exhibit across more than 400 linear feet, displaying 50 paintings. The Foothills Art Center in Golden included over 20 paintings, digital art, and a multimedia presentation within roughly 200 linear feet.
At the University of Colorado it featured 12 seven-foot paintings and a multimedia presentation within about 120 linear feet or around 1200 sq. ft. During the University of Michigan display, my digital art was presented on a full-size movie theater screen. Lastly, at Space Gallery in Denver, there were 8 digital monitors and 25 paintings on display. Here is a 360 degree tour of the Space Gallery exhibition. This exhibit probably took up 2500 sq. ft.
As you can see, I can adjust the number of paintings and monitors to fill a wide range of spaces.
Installation time, depending on the size of the exhibit, is usually two days or less. Exhibits are typically displayed for three to six weeks.
About the Art
I paint large-scale acrylic on canvas and I also create hybrid-digital paintings which are shown on HDTV monitors or as projections as large as theater screens.
My art has been exhibited worldwide at universities, art centers, museums, and galleries. This link includes a list of exhibitions, awards and in some cases video exhibit tours including several related exhibits.
These exhibitions and related activities have received considerable national and international media coverage including NPR Morning Edition, NPR Atlanta City Lights, ABC/Scripps, Denver 7 and more than 100 other local stations plus many more publications, podcasts and interviews. A sample of media coverage can be seen here.
My recent exhibit at Space Gallery - Denver was included in the programing for the College on Problems of Drug Dependence CPDD annual conference and featured remarks by the National Institute on Drug Abuse's Deputy Director.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse's Director and I participated in a panel discussion along with professionals from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus at the opening of my University of Colorado exhibition.
The Foothills Art Center exhibition included a panel with pertinent participants from Kaiser Permanente.
I co-created a public service video with the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
I have been a guest speaker specifically addressing the issue of Substance Use Disorder and stigma at the University of Wisconsin - Stout, the Washington DC Hospital Association, the State `of Colorado Department of Human Services, the University of Colorado Center for Bioethics and Humanities, Case Western Reserve University and the National Institute on Drug Abuse's annual Director's Awards Ceremony. You can see a complete list here.
Two of my paintings are prominently featured in the opening credits in the two-part documentary Listen to the Silence: Women Trapped In The Opioid Epidemic which airs on ABC affiliated stations nationwide and soon on PBS. These were produced by the six-time Emmy Award winning Diva Communications with whom I collaborate.