It was spring of 2013, and it started out like any other second Thursday of the month. The Patient and Family Advisory Council gathered to discuss the usual things, like ways to ensure and enhance the best experience for patients and families facing mental health issues, but also on the agenda that day was the Kolar Design team. They were inquiring about ways we might personalize and warm the space of the newly renovated east wing (P3E) of the College Hill campus.
As we brainstormed thoughts and ideas with the Kolar Design team, it was suggested that patients and families take the photographs themselves to add a personal touch. The theme was to bring the outside in. None of us were professional photographers, but we all thought it was a great way to have some ownership and pride in a place where we all spend a lot of time.
So we collaborated with Kolar Design to figure out all of the details. They came to College Hill, along with a professional photographer, who gave us a tutorial in photography and a lesson on how to operate the cameras. We were inspired!
As we set out to nearby parks to take our own nature photographs, something happened. For the next few of hours, the patients and their families became completely engrossed in their projects. I heard things like: “Wow, I never looked at a flower that way,” and “I’ve never laid on my belly to take a photograph before.”
Then it hit us. While we are familiar with the benefits of artwork and mental health, seeing it happening right in front of us was really something special. It was clear that the process of creating the artwork was just as important as enjoying the finished product. It was a therapy of sorts, not just individually but for the families as well, as a lot of them don’t get to spend this kind of quality time together. It was peaceful and a way they could get lost in the moment yet still be 100% present. It was clear something special was happening.
The resulting photographs were truly spectacular. So fantastic, in fact, that we had too many for the original hallway we planned to adorn. We certainly didn’t want these amazing photographs to go to waste, so brainstorming began to figure out what we could do with them. Ideas like note cards, notebooks, and prints were thrown around. While hosting an art show was suggested, other ideas like creating other art and jewelry was mentioned. Before we knew it, we had enough ideas to fill a gallery.
As the facilitators of the group, we wondered if there would be enough interest to create a subgroup and continue the art-making. The response was a resounding and overwhelming yes.
That’s how ‘Patiently Made’ was born. The patients and their families wanted to use this group as a way to send a positive message and work to break down the stigma of mental health. And what better way than through art?
We determined our mission and vision should be to connect with the community, empower individuals faced with mental health challenges, and inspire creative thinking. Armed with the knowledge that suicide is the third leading cause of death for teenagers in this country, according to the Centers for Disease Control, we’ve set out to positively impact that statistic; all while making – and now selling – artwork.
Many teens with mental health issues are victims of bullying. They’re not well understood by their peers, and it can be isolating. Having a place for them to come and be a part of something productive and meaningful has really made a difference: they’re driven by the passion to make a shift in society and to reach out to other teens who may be struggling alone.
Our debut and first art show will be held this Friday, May 9 from 6-9 at the Sharonville Fine Arts Center. All proceeds from the sales of photographs and jewelry will go to the division of psychiatry.
But it’s not stopping there. We plan to continue making art, with our sights set on creating a web site, selling at local venues and gift shops, all while helping to break down the stigma of mental health.
Leave a Reply