Art Reducing Stigma

Current Exhibition of Mental Health Portraits At URMC’s Miner Library

View the original article from Miner News
by Susan Andersen
Published on June 5, 2017

Be honest.

What words came to your mind when you read the title of this exhibit?

Maybe gloomy, depressing, boring?

Well, get ready to be surprised.

Because the exhibit is intimate, playful, spontaneous, and colorful.

Charmaine Wheatley is artist-in-residence at University of Rochester Medical Center. Her goal is to shift perceptions around mental illness. Through her art, Charmaine encourages understanding and provides hope to those who struggle. No labels; no condemnations; no stigma.

Wheatley’s portraits are a breath of fresh air. Her work is informal and intuitive. Each drawing is a pocket-sized 4” x 7-3/8.” She uses watercolor, ink, gel pen, graphite, and gouache on paper.

Artist's studio

“De-stigmatizing happens through humanizing,” says Wheatley. So each portrait sitting involves an open-hearted discussion about living with the challenges of mental illness. Fragments of conversations are integrated within the portrait to create the final piece.

Sitters include people from University of Rochester, Strong Ties, Strong Recovery, Creative Wellness Opportunities, and St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center. They include people experiencing mental health challenges themselves, and/or professionals actively engaged in helping others, like psychiatrists, mental health activists, peer advocates, counselors, and nurses.

After July 1, 2017, Wheatley will shift her focus to the HIV/AIDS community of Rochester.

Edward G. Miner Library
 is open Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.


Miner Library

URMC, Miner Library — This installation of portraits features artworks from the second half of Charmaine's residency at the University.

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