February 2018

Hilton Garden Inn at Vanderbilt | February 15

by Amanda Dobra Hope

Deborah Hanson, Weaving, 2016, Natural materials and yarn, 11” x 9”

Many of us know at least one person who has struggled with mental illness or addictions. Art aficionados of all kinds know that a creative practice can go a long way towards giving people back the vitality they had before their illness or addictions. The Healing Arts Project, Inc. (HAPI) of Nashville serves as a resource for people in recovery from mental illness and art patrons alike. HAPI is a conduit for people to reconnect to their brilliance through art, as well as for those who love art to connect with the artist, acquire a beautiful new piece, and contribute to the program.

HAPI was founded in 2004 by a group of people who had a tie to someone in mental recovery. The group felt that because people with mental illness can sometimes disappear into the background of society, they wanted to shine a light on them and their contributions to the community. As art is beautiful and engaging as well as expressive, the group decided to use art to attract positive attention to these contributions.

One of the original founding members, Jane Baxter, was inspired to volunteer for HAPI by her eldest daughter, who experienced a mental breakdown during her medical residency training. Baxter, who serves as Project Director of the group, is passionate about the difference she sees in the artists who have benefited from their services.

Brenda Gray, The Way of the World, 2016, Mixed media, 9” x 12”

“The whole point is promoting the individuals so they see themselves as somebody and that they matter. Many people don’t have a strong support system, and they need something to help them after recovery,” Baxter explains. “I saw that support and advocacy for my daughter helped her get back to her life,” she continues. Baxter stresses that the artists have shared with her that without this support, their lives didn’t have hope, and now they’re doing something they never thought they could do.

Laura Hudson, Morning on the Farm, 2016, Colored markers, 11” x 14”

HAPI offers art classes based out of fourteen national Peer Support Centers in Middle Tennessee. Sponsored in part by funding from the Tennessee Arts Commission and Metro Nashville Arts Commission, the project serves more than 500 artists per year.

You can support HAPI, now in its eighth year, by attending the Phoenix Art Gala on Thursday, February 15, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn at Vanderbilt. Paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and weaving from more than 50 HAPI artists will be on exhibit and for sale. For more information, please visit www.healingartsprojectinc.org.

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