Art Reducing Stigma

We Take Care of Each Other

Knott County Drug Court 

53 Main St E #226, Hindman, Kentucky 41822

These portraits seek to reduce the stigma around opioid use disorder (OUD), and to humanize the people who are affected by OUD.  People who were born, raised – and live – in Knott County.

They are not stories, but rather snippets of intimate, personal disclosures that these sitters have shared with the artist, Charmaine Wheatley, during their portrait session.

By creating of portraits of individuals, Wheatley builds a portrait of a community and place – and reminds us of our common humanity.”

While in Knott County, Wheatley sat with four people personally impacted by opioid addiction. Three of which are currently residents at Hickory Hill, a men’s residential recovery facility. 

Phillip Aaron Hudson, Ben Bowling, and Ethan Chad Whited all shared their personal stories and revealed the profound suffering that the Opioid Crisis has brought into an untold number of lives. 

The fourth person Wheatley sat with was Melissa Handshoe, a Native American woman who is representative of many other women in recovery. While the overall rate of opioid overdoses among men is higher than women, the rates have been increasing at a faster rate among women compared to men. Handshoe shares the details of trauma in her early life, her experience being a mother affected by OUD, and how art has been a supporting part of her recovery. 

Special thanks to Yoko Nogami and the Appalachian Artisan Center; Michael Nix and the residents of Hickory Hill; Judge Kimberley Childers’ Drug Court in Knott County, Angela Short, Randall Slone, Carl Koger, Clinton Fleming; and Takeform for making this installation happen. 

This HRSA RCORP RCOE program is supported by the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) of the US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $12.3M with 0% financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by HRSA, HHS or the US Government.