Creations of Hope

Valeo Behavioral Health Care is sponsoring the ninth annual “Creations of Hope” art exhibit at the Upstage Gallery. The exhibit is juried and open to all artists experiencing a mental illness. It began Oct. 4 to help kick off Mental Awareness week and will continue until Oct. 30.

“The aim of the show is on advocacy and raising awareness in mental illness,” said Cara Weeks, an expressive therapist at Valeo. “It’s a chance to celebrate the strength and the creativity of persons with mental illness rather than having things in the media that focus on disability or traumatic stories that you hear about in the news.”

Weeks said that people can expect to get a new view on what mental illness really means. Each work of art is displayed in the gallery. Some include a statement by the artist about their experience with mental illness or how art played a role in their life.

“I hope [the community] enjoys the exhibit,” said Weeks. “Just enjoy the art and the creativity. And also just get a new view on what all this means. It is varied in shape and I think stigma is one of the biggest barriers for people seeking mental health treatment to get treatment. And events like this help break down those preconceived notions about mental illness and help open the doors to see that there is recovery and hope and beauty within it.”

The exhibit originally started as a small show but this year features 89 artists from across the area, including Topeka, Kansas City, Wichita and Manhattan. The artist is able to display thier artwork and also put it up for sale. All sale proceeds made from the artwork go directly back to the artist.

“You’ve got various art students who come to the gallery and this exhibit might spark some ideas of their own,” said Bob Coyle, Upstage Gallery facilities manager. “It helps give them a little bit of an idea of what can be done that they haven’t thought of in the past because there is a lot of unique pieces in here.”

The Upstage Gallery is located at 720 SW Jackson in the Jayhawk Towers. They are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information call 785-233-4295.

“People with mental illnesses are people they’re not illnesses,” said Coyle. “Drop the stigma and forget it. I have seen that stigma drop in the past 30 years and I just think we need to keep dropping it. The acceptance is what needs to be there.”