They came from all walks of life. Men, women, and children who visited the opening of Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine’s sixth art exhibit had been, in some way, touched by the power of art in healing. The show featured the works of more than 70 people, many of whom had received care at Roanoke Valley mental health agencies and clinics. 

A range of media was represented, including painting, illustration, photography, mixed media, and sculptural artwork.

One of the highlights was a series of masks that were painted on both front and back to represent the powerful dichotomy between the artists’ internal and external perceptions and emotions.

Many of the pieces included references to recovery from mental illness. Participating organizations included Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare, Carilion Clinic, Catawba Hospital, Family Service of Raonoke Valley, LewisGale Medical Center, and Mental Health America of Roanoke Valley.

In addition, Roanoke artist Eric Fitzpatrick had a work on display that portrayed hope of recovery from mental illness. His work, "Walking toward the Light” was commissioned by Mental Health America of Roanoke Valley in 1993 as part of a national public awareness campaign on depression.

Another highlight was a music-inspired painting by John Bramblitt, a nationally recognized blind artist who had recently given an inspirational talk at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

See the related article: Art exhibit explores creativity and mental health

Written by Catherine Doss