Exhibit to highlight connection between art and mental health

Special to Black Mountain News
"Hope in Light" by Marty Sawyer was was one of the pieces on display last year when Black Mountain Counseling Center presented "Ten Days in May" at the Red House Gallery. On April 12, the center will present "Becoming Whole: A Study in Art and Healing" at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts. The exhibit will focus on the connection between art and mental health.

An exhibition focused on the connection between creativity, art and mental health and wellness will open on Friday, April 12, at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts, as Black Mountain Counseling Center (BMCC) presents "Becoming Whole: A Study in Art and Healing." 

Last year, the counseling center partnered with Swannanoa Valley Fine Arts League to present "Ten Days in May," an exhibit that explored how the physical act of creating improved physical and mental health by reducing stress symptoms of depression.

With "Becoming Whole," BMCC hopes to dig deeper into art's impact on mental health and wellness.

The benefits of viewing and creating art are well-documented. It can increases feelings of empathy and tolerance while addressing symptoms of stress and depression. Art is reported to improve overall brain health and activates the same chemical centers of the brain as falling in love.

“Art encompasses the human experience, and part of that experience is mental health and wellness,” said Ashley Starnes, development and administration assistant for the BMCC. “For some artists, creating is a way of understanding themselves. For others, it’s a way to be heard when they cannot accurately express themselves. Several of our counselors and clients are artists. Children in therapy are often encouraged to draw or paint or work with clay in order to understand and appropriately name their feelings, which allows them to navigate those emotions and bad situations in a healthy way.”

BMCC is a non-profit that provides counseling services, regardless of a client’s ability to pay. Clients receive services from licensed, experienced counselors, regardless of whether they are insured, uninsured, or under-insured. The organization has been serving clients in eastern Buncombe County since 2007.

“Every day we see evidence of the benefits of art,” said BMCA executive director Gale Jackson. “From the glowing faces of guests after a concert, to the radiance of our clay studio participants, to the exuberance of students in our many classes, and strangers who wander in off the streets to visit our gallery, art moves people and brings them together. We are so proud to partner with this important organization and vital element of the Black Mountain community.”

Artwork and artist statements must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on March 25. Those interested in submitting can find the requirements and other information at blackmountaincounseling.org/sign-up.

The exhibit will be located in the Upper Gallery, with an opening night celebration taking place at 6 p.m. The show will run until May 10.

The Black Mountain Center for the Arts is located at 225 W. State Street. The Upper Gallery is free to the public and open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. For more information call 669-0930 or visit blackmountainarts.org.