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Addiction and art

Addiction from the artist’s eye – why?

The editors of  “Addiction and Art” have found an innovative way to complement the science and research of addiction.  They have collected multi media works and presented them from the artist’s perspective.  The goals of this project (funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine) are to inspire:

  1. compassion from loved ones of addicts
  2. hope in addicts who need recovery
  3. funding from policymakers
  4. understanding of addiction for scientists

At first, these goals seemed out of reach and perhaps even a little presuming.  Then, as you sit with the images and the author’s explanations of how or why or what compelled them…the human element of addiction is drawn forth.  The dynamics of the mind, life and challenges of an addict are truly made visible.  And when you see the addict from the artist’s eye, you FEEL the addict as well.

The spirit of design & addiction imagery

I’ve always been attracted to art.  And I think that behind every piece of  “art”, there lies an intention.  And we can intuit, or touch, this intention if we sit and contemplate the piece.  Behind every “work of art”, there is a spirit.

What I like about “Addiction and Art” is that I am not overwhelmed by a sense of hopelessness, one that I assumed would dominate such a book.  Instead, I found that the book evoked a full range of emotions, thoughts, and perspectives.  There is present in this volume: (for me)

  • despair
  • honesty
  • fatigue
  • insanity
  • humor
  • hope  … and more

And every time that you pick it up, you can access a new range of reactions.

Create an art exhibition for recovery

The editors of  “Art and Addiction” summarize the goal of the book  in one statement:  addiction art teaches.  But the interesting thing about the book is that the process of gathering art from artists, publishing their works, and hosting an exhibition is REPLICABLE.  This means that YOU, JOE SCHMOE, CAN HOLD AN ADDICTION ART EXHBITION TOO!

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If you have $30 to spare and are interested in addiction, grab Addiction and Art.  It is a worthwhile, compelling and interesting view of the addict’s world(s).  But if you are interested in taking the idea to the next level, the editors of the book have created guidelines for creating an addiction exhibition.  These guidelines outline how to get your community interested in addiction art, and to start conversations about addiction at the local level.  Which is what I find even more interesting.

Take the model and run!

What do you think?  Can art really change people’s minds about addiction?  Can the artist see or interpret things about addiction that science cannot?  Should art be compulsory in today’s schools as an addiction prevention tool?  How can art become more accessible to the real people in today’s America?

Photo credit: See-ming Lee SML

Leave a Reply

3 Responses to “Addiction and art
Marie Cullen
10:30 pm November 29th, 2010

Knowing so many creative people in recovery and being familiar with the frailty of the artist’s soul, I can’t wait to get a copy of this book. There are so many layers to addiction, so many ways people try to save themselves. Art and creativity is fundamentally important to healing and communication.

Katrina Meredith
3:32 am December 3rd, 2010

Several addicts that I’ve been acquainted with have huge difficulties with expressing their feeling. This is an exciting project to increasing addicts understanding of themselves and helping to create compassion and understanding by others. Thanks for reviewing.

carl
11:44 pm December 1st, 2013

is anyone knows what is the painting of Mr. JEAN MICHEL BASQUIAT that talks about drug addictions? thanks

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