Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Friday

November 15, 2013

Art of Recovery: A Human Journey

TRAVERSE CITY — Carolyn Trnka’s photograph, which hangs high on the wall at the far end of the InsideOut Gallery also is a statement that sums up what the current exhibit is about.

She’s been taking photos for years. Many people told her she needed to get her work out for public view, but social anxieties that have plagued her since she was 12 held her back.

This year, one of the 27-year-old’s three entries was a 16-by-20-inch photograph she took a few years ago of a lone red brick lying on a pile of gray rocks. The brick had the word “Unity” embossed on it.

“I thought it was ironic that someone had thrown it out there in the field,” she said.

The annual exhibit, the Northern Lakes Community Mental Health show, that opened last week at the gallery includes 110 works by 55 artists.

All of the artists are unified by their struggle with some type of seemingly insurmountable illness.

The purpose of the exhibit, which will run through Nov. 25, is to celebrate the healing power of art and resiliency of people, as well as decrease the stigma of mental illness through art and public education, said Deb Freed, who helped organize the annual event.

“If you look at mental health as a continuum, we’re all on it at some point in our lives, depending on age and circumstances,’’ said spokeswoman Deb Freed, who helped organize it. “The whole premise of this show is that we’re all in this together. It’s a human journey. We all suffer at some time in our lives. The beautiful thing about this show is you can’t tell who receive CMH services and others who have had other kinds of challenges because of severe care accidents that have resulted in significant impairments, alcohol and drug recovery, or other problems.”

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