Santa Maria Sun / Art
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 10
Hope and healing through artTransitions-Mental Health Association presents its 'Art of Recovery' exhibit, highlighting creations by people healing from mental illness
BY JOE PAYNE
Coming to terms and dealing with a mental illness—whether internally or externally—can be the hardest thing a person does. Transitions-Mental Health Association (TMHA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making that journey easier through a variety of programs, including the “Art of Recovery” art exhibit, which is co-sponsored by the Healing Arts Council of Santa Barbara.
“This show is for anybody that relates to having a mental health issue,” said TMHA associate director Frank Ricceri. “This is really to show the positivity of what people can do. It’s not about all the negative stuff we may read about; it’s about the positive, beautiful artwork that people do.”
TMHA operates in Santa Barbara and SLO counties, presenting the “Art of Recovery” show every other year in Santa Maria, with SLO enjoying its own show on the alternating years.
“We usually work more with people who are in the public health services system,” Ricceri said. “It’s nice, because Transitions covers several counties; mental health services is usually county specific, and you can’t cross over, but Transitions can.”
The art show is open to members from both counties, but many of the people showing are involved with TMHA’s programs at Rancho Hermosa in Santa Maria, where the show will be held.
“We have people who come here for various forms of support,” Ricceri said, “from anger management, discussion groups, women’s groups, Spanish language groups, and art groups.”
The art programs and the exhibit serve as a valuable outlet for clients dealing with mental health issues to express themselves, Ricceri explained.
“Mental illness can be a lonely place to be, so getting out there and doing something creative helps people to get out of their own troubles,” he said. “I see the effects that art has in someone, feeling really proud of something they created.”
The show will feature media of all kinds. Jewelry to poems, music, stonework, metal, clay, textiles, sketches, and paintings—they all reflect the program and an expression of healing.
“These are people who live in shadows,” Ricceri said. “It’s not safe to be open about your mental illness, so we make a safe place for them to talk about it and express themselves.”
This year, one TMHA employee will be the featured artist for the event. Arthur Thompson, Jr. created his very first watercolor painting titled The Lighthouse, which was chosen to represent and symbolize the exhibit.
“This one really jumped out as symbolic and indicative of hope with the lighthouse,” Ricceri said. “It really resonated with us, the power of the story that this piece tells about mental health.”
Thompson, who’s been sketching since he was 10, tried his hand at watercolor for the first time, inspired by memories of his father, who painted. The exhibit gave him a chance to share his creation, which helped him in his healing process.
“When I heard about the ‘Art of Recovery’ show, I was inspired to create a piece that symbolized my experience with recovery,” Thompson said in a statement released by the association. “TMHA’s Life House has inspired me to focus on my mental health and has re-ignited the sparkle of life that I lost with my depression.”
Since getting involved with the wellness center’s art program, Thompson has been painting every day, something that helps him with the challenges of healing from mental illness.
“Art can help you get through major tragedies in your life,” he said in the statement. “I know for me, it was a gateway to start enjoying life again.”
The art groups at the wellness center serve as a valuable creative outlet, but also as a place where clients can relate to and support one another, Ricceri explained.
“The support I see among the members is just unbelievable,” he said.
The site of the art exhibit, Rancho Hermosa, is slated to become a permanent art gallery for TMHA members once the organization gets the proper permits. Until then, the show hangs temporarily from May 22 through 31. A reception event is set for May 22 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the location.
“It is open to the public and free; we want people to come and appreciate and check this out,” Ricceri said. “They are so excited to show what they have done.”
Arts Editor Joe Payne enjoys transitional, healing art of all kinds. Contact him at email@example.com.