New canvas 

Art, along with its creation, is a powerful tool that serves as a conduit for human expression.

It evolves, and through that evolution, it can be utilized as a means of communication and healing.

This September marks the 24th year of National Recovery Month, and in a collaborative effort, the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) joined Thunderbird Clubhouse, 1251 Triad Village Dr. in Norman, to host its second annual art show, Finding Meaning: The Art of Recovery.

“Art is a really great way to start talking about recovery,” said Jeff Dismukes, director of communications at ODMHSAS.

The event will showcase contributions from artists who have been impacted by mental health and/or substance abuse. A panel of local art professionals selected the work that will be displayed in this year’s show.

“Our hope is that [by] focusing on the positive and providing a forum to openly discuss these issues, we can begin to break down the barriers that too often inhibit individuals from accessing needed care,” Dismukes said.

The Art of Recovery will promote community awareness, as well as address social taboos surrounding the topic of mental health.

“It is the stigma and the fear of discrimination, the fear of labeling, that keeps many people from seeking help when needed — or even from knowing
where to go to find assistance. This art show is about seeing people as
people, not as a label,” Dismukes said.

“The approach we take is one of advocacy,” said Pam Sanford, executive director of the Thunderbird Clubhouse.

The clubhouse is a nonprofit that works to provide community support, job placement and housing.

“This event is a real opportunity to promote awareness [and] celebrate recovery,” said Sanford.

With the success of last year’s event, Dismukes and Sanford were encouraged to broaden their perspective and expand public visibility.

The owner of Joy’s Palace, Joy Shalberg, donated 3,000 square feet of her event center to host the show.

“Everything that comes through these doors is a celebration, and I am so delighted to support and celebrate this event,” said Shalberg. “These are artists who have experienced a different — and often more difficult — path. I have fallen in love with their art, and I think many people will be amazed.”

“The outpouring of support that we have received has been tremendous,” Dismukes said. “What better way [to expand awareness] than through art?”

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