Local mother’s grief sparks artwork that aims to end stigma surrounding drug addiction
LYNCHBURG, Virginia. – When Theresa Clower’s son died of an overdose in 2018, she turned to art to cope. His first project was a pencil drawing of his son. This portrait sparked “INTO LIGHT,” an art exhibition that aims to end the stigma surrounding drug addiction.
The exhibit features portraits of different people in Virginia who died of drug addiction, along with a description of who they were and their history. Portraits are a way of putting a face to the disease.
Prior to this project, Theresa had never done a portrait, but now she has done over 250.
“The involvement of families is just as important as the portrayal and the narrative,” Clowers said. “By sharing their loved ones, by sharing their pictures and their stories, they are really telling the world ‘these were people who, like all of us, were suffering from an illness and they deserved much better care than we could have for them. to give .'”
After the exhibition closes, each portrait will be offered to families.
Clower hopes that “INTO LIGHT” will help those struggling with drug addiction and those who see the disease from the outside.
“Because of stigma, 90% of people with substance use disorders don’t get the help they need. We need to change that. [Substance use disorder] is a treatable disease. I hope that by viewing the portraits and reading the stories of people who have suffered from this insidious disease, people will start to change their attitude about what addiction is and come to see those who have suffered as people. like all of us, ”Clowers said. “We each have our bright side and our dark side. No one should be defined by their darkest moments.
“INTO LIGHT” exhibitions were also held in Maryland, Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Each presents portraits of people of that specific state. Theresa is hoping that exhibits like this one day appear across the country.
“There is such a need everywhere. We hear statistics – 93,000 people died last year from overdoses – but we don’t see the faces of those people, so we offer that, ”Clowers said.
Future exhibitions are planned in Florida and California. The goal is to have them in all 50 states.
Along with the exhibition, a public workshop will be held at the university at the end of the month. He will focus on healing the stigma of addictions.
The exhibition opens at the Daura Museum of Art on October 5 at 4 p.m. and will run until November 12.
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