"The Arts Heal"

“The Arts Heal” exhibit is on display through June 21 at Bottle Works.

The healing power of art is on display at this exhibition.

“The Arts Heal” show will be on display through June 21 at Bottle Works, 411 Third Ave., Cambria City, Johnstown.

The exhibit is a group show curated by Donald Talbot, professor of fine arts at Mount Aloysius College, and features artwork from participants in the Opening Minds through Art (OMA); the Peer Empowerment Network; the H.O.P.E. Drop-in Center in Altoona; Mental Health Resources of Central Pennsylvania; Evolution Counseling Services, LLC, in Altoona; SouthernCare Hospice in Altoona; and YogaSong programs.

The show includes more than 200 pieces from 120 artists.

A companion exhibit, “Let’s Heal” by photographer Brenda Sanner, is simultaneously on display in the Black Box Theatre in the Bottle Works’ Tulip Building.

Talbot started the healing outreach with students in his community engagement through the expressive arts class at Mount Aloysius College.

“For the folks from these communities, the engagement is in the process,” he said.

“The support from artists and instructors becomes more important than the art itself.”

Talbot said the exhibition provides participants an opportunity to address their own personal issues and help with their healing.

“The show gives them that public recognition, having them be able to take pride in something that they’ve done that’s on public display,” he said.

“Those accolades for seeing their work on display is a huge boost to them and the positive feedback is a wonderful thing.

“They are incredibly proud of seeing their work in an official gallery space.”

In 2016, Mount Aloysius College, under the initiative of Talbot, partnered with Laurel View Village in Davidsville to implement the region’s first OMA program.

OMA is an intergenerational art program for people with dementia, is grounded in person-centered ethics and founded on the fact that people with dementia are capable of expressing themselves creatively. 

In 2017, a second OMA site was established at Richland Woods Assisted Living in Johnstown, and in the spring, a third OMA site at Garvey Manor in Hollidaysburg.

The program has been chiefly funded by 1889 Foundation Creative Health Impact grants.

In 2018, an initiative between Mount Aloysius College and Behavioral Health of Cambria County led to the creation of a community-based open studio arts site to serve Peer Empowerment Network’s Drop-in Center clients.

The Peer Empowerment Network Drop-in Center, often called the PEN Center, provides a safe, supportive and welcoming environment for individuals 18 and older living with and recovering from a mental health issue.

Also in 2018, Talbot started a weekly open art studio for clients of H.O.P.E. Drop-in Center in Altoona.

H.O.P.E. Drop-in was established in 2014 by a small group of individuals with a mental health diagnosis, who were seeking a safe, stigma-free environment to offer support to each other. The group continued to meet and organize, with an end goal of establishing a drop-in center that would be open daily for individuals with mental health issues.

In addition, during the 2018-2019 academic year, Talbot and Mount Aloysius College expressive arts students worked with clients at Mental Health Resources of Cambria County, Ebensburg, and Arts for Healing at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center.

Rachel Allen partners and collaborates with nonprofits and providers of services to individuals who have sustained trauma in their lives and deal with recurring issues.

Allen teaches survivors of rape, domestic violence, those who suffer from addiction and homelessness and incarcerated women.

“It is a privilege to share this practice and honor the light that exists in all beings without exception,” she said. 

In addition to trauma classes, Allen has training available for clinicians, therapists and yoga teachers.

Sanner is a social worker and photographer from Portage.

She has been a photographer for 10 years and has exhibited at Mount Aloysius College and the University of Rhode Island, Feinstein Providence campus.

“I hope that people feel authenticity and comfort in my work,” Sanner said.

Melody Tisinger, Bottle Works’ program operations manager, said the exhibit is held in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Month that is recognized in May.

“People might not think of art as therapy, so we want to give light to that as a resource,” she said.

There is no admission to the exhibition.

Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.

For more information, call 814-535-2020 or visit www.bottleworks.org.

Kelly Urban is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. She can be reached at (814) 532-5073. Follow her on Twitter @KellyUrban25.