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MOUNT VERNON — In support of World Bipolar Day, NAMI of Knox Licking County partnered with The Main Place to put on a free open house and art show Friday to highlight some of Knox and Licking counties’ talented artists who also suffer from metal illness.
While The Main Place has been involved with the Art of Recovery event that happens every fall for several years, this is the first art show NAMI KLCO has put on and been so involved in.
The goal of the art show is to not only showcase some of the many talented artists in both counties, but to “make people aware that people express their feelings in beautiful ways,” NAMI KCLO director Dodie Melvin told the News. The purpose is to bring awareness to mental illness and to help create an understanding within the community.
As Rhonda Gibson, co-director of The Main Place in Newark, explained, awareness is key. She mentioned the amount of bad publicity mental illness tends to get today, and how unfortunate that is — and how harmful it is for those suffering from a mental illness to be portrayed in a negative light. In reality, most people suffering from a mental illness are more likely to hurt themselves or be the victim rather than harm others, Gibson added.
Having awareness days dedicated to specific illnesses helps to educate people about the realities of mental illnesses, thus reducing some of the fear caused by misunderstandings of the illnesses. It can also help to empower those suffering from mental illness not to be afraid of them and encourage them to seek help if they are struggling, explained Gibson.
Art is a great way to showcase how people cope with and experience their own mental illnesses differently. For Gibson, art has greatly helped her with her own mental health struggles, as they do for so many others.
For Cassandra Dyer of Newark, art is also her main form of support through her struggles with mental health. She attends the art support classes at The Main Place in Newark on Thursdays, which she said takes place from 12:30-5 p.m. and are open to the adult public.
Dyer told the News she spent most of her childhood in and out of different foster homes, and she suffered several instances of multiple kinds of abuse. When she was 17, she said, she was able to escape all of that and has been on her own since.
Art, she explained, has been the thing that helps to keep her away from harmful tendencies like drugs and alcohol.
Dyer said she believes the art class “helps people to understand they’re not alone.”
You see other people going through similar things as you, and you can see how people got through different hardships, Dyer told the News at Friday’s art show.
Looking at the different pieces she had on display, Dyer said that they remind her how far she had come in the several years she has been going to the art classes.
Pointing out a few of the other pieces, she added that “everybody’s art describes something different” based on their own experiences. Even her pieces, she said, are different based on her mood and what she is experiencing at a certain time. Sometimes the art isn’t based specifically on her life, but on things she sees around her as well.
“It’s a natural medication,” she said.
The open house was at the NAMI office, 15 E. Vine St., Mount Vernon, and the art pieces will be displayed during regular office hours (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) until May 16, Melvin said.