NAMI Western Carolina, in collaboration with Aurora Studio, recently hosted the “Art in Community” project, a series of weekend art workshops for peers and community members which took place in early November. The collaboration stemmed from a previous partnership with Aurora Studio, which, during the pandemic, offered a vital lifeline during the isolation of COVID and created a community of individuals who were able to express themselves through art while learning from professional art teachers and sharing their work in the community through gallery exhibits and special events.

During the workshops, local artists teach six classes to groups of 8-10 each. The classes include various visual art mediums and include light refreshments. Transportation is provided to those who require it through Mountain Mobility and group home vans, and the event takes place in partnership with other mental health providers and community members at a public location that is accessible to those with mobility issues. The goal of ‘Art in Community’ is peer inclusion in community with art as a unifying medium while reducing stigma around mental health.

NAMI Western Carolina plans to implement this as an ongoing annual program in their community as they believe in the power of art to transform and heal. Another event is already planned for Spring 2024.

Aurora Studio has also partnered with art galleries in the River Arts District for many years, creating a connection to the art world that is an integral part of the project’s success.

NAMI Western Carolina celebrates this successful and inclusive program through an art exhibit and gathering of the larger community to raise awareness and recognize the contribution of peers as their express themselves on their journeys to healing.

A comment from a recent participant:

“I LOVED this workshop and will continue these techniques in the future. A great balance of insight, creativity and fun. Art is the meeting of inner transformation and creative engagement. In the peace of these two there is healing fun and expression.”


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