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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Healing Hearts brushes away addiction stigma

Art+lovers+browse+the+the+display+at+The+Healing+Arts+Exhibition%2C+Friday%2C+Feb.+2%2C+2024%2C+in+the+San+Marcos+Art+Center+in+downtown+San+Marcos.
Kobe Arriaga
Art lovers browse the the display at The Healing Arts Exhibition, Friday, Feb. 2, 2024, in the San Marcos Art Center in downtown San Marcos.

The second annual Healing Hearts Art Exhibition is open to the public at the San Marcos Art Center gallery for the full month of February.

Cenikor Foundation, a non-profit recovery and treatment center, operates locally to provide resources for those battling various addictions and substance abuse. The organization’s community Awareness, Intervention and Mobilization team (Project AIM), looks forward to spreading awareness through the power of creativity and therapeutic nature of art, as a part of recovery from addiction and mental struggles.

“At the art show last year, it was heartwarming to see people connecting over these hard moments,” Peyton Siler, Project AIM program manager, said. “It felt very tangible. I think sometimes the conversations can be hard to have and so art is a very universal language and way to paint emotions. [The gallery] also provided that platform. Even if someone wasn’t able to get up and share their story, it was there.”

Project AIM is a non-profit program local to Hays County that advocates for open and conflict-free solutions for young adults who may seek to improve behavioral health and resiliency. To start a conversation and foster community around healing, Project AIM’s team of three decided a space like the exhibit would encourage comfort and positivity.

This year Carla Merritt, Siler’s supervisor and the director of prevention and youth recovery, is hoping with the familiarity they have, the exhibit allows for a greater chance of visibility.

Project AIM wishes to make it clear that when it comes to personal struggle, the struggle at hand does not need to be a detriment to one’s life.

“[We hope that] they don’t see us as something that’s rigid but people that are truly there to help them,” Merritt said. “They would know that there are people out there that truly want to help them and that we’re those people… It’s another way to bring people together and just say, ‘You know what, we can talk about this and there’s help out there and we don’t have to be ashamed.’”

The exhibit accomplishes the team’s goal of awareness for addiction treatment and much more. Showcasing artists who have personally struggled with sobriety provides a venue for community members to explore different methods that may help in their recovery journey. Karen Ramsey, an exhibit artist and art league affiliate, emphasizes how important an outlet for creativity was for her healing process.

“I was enthralled with alcohol inking, and so I would practice, four, five, six hours a day, and that really helped with the cravings and the triggers,” Ramsey said. “I spent my time immersed in trying to learn the medium of alcohol ink. I had no clue how therapeutic art could be. You just get caught up in the art that you’re creating, and it was a blessing. If I hadn’t had that, I don’t know if I’d be somewhere today.”

Because of Healing Hearts, there is proof the sharing of creative works has inspired artists and exhibit goers alike to be more candid about their experiences.

“It was my art that helped me,” Ramsey said. “I wasn’t home, I wasn’t driving and I just didn’t have the confidence, and now I do. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been really candid about my sobriety because I feel like I have a little traction now.”

The Project AIM team and Cenikor collectively hope the effort put toward creating this space for the commercial begins conversations and introduces opportunities for personal wellness. For them, bringing artists and viewers together for one event will hopefully push for tackling issues that may often be difficult to address.

“The show and Project AIM will kind of prompt intentional reflection about health behaviors,” Siler said. “I think it’s always important no matter where you are in your life to be internally doing some reflection about the behaviors we engage in.”

The Healing Hearts Art Exhibit will hold its opening reception from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 2, 2024, at the San Marcos Art Center.

If you or someone you know may need help, Project AIM is available at [email protected] and by text/call at 281-728-4908

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