When her son, Devin, died after a fentanyl overdose in 2018, Theresa Clower turned to art as a way to deal with her grief. Her first project was a pencil drawing of her son. That portrait sparked “INTO LIGHT: Erasing the Stigma of Drug Addiction,” one of two exhibits opening Tuesday, Oct. 5, at the University of Lynchburg’s Daura Museum of Art.
An opening reception for both exhibits — “INTO LIGHT” and “Battered: Donna Ferrato’s Documentation of Domestic Violence” — will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. that day. The public is invited, admission is free, and light refreshments will be served.
Clower, founder, executive director, and artist for the INTO LIGHT project, will speak at the reception.
The Daura Museum of Art was selected as the Virginia site for INTO LIGHT, an exhibit series that aims to “put a human face” on the disease of drug addiction, “erase the stigma and shame of drug addiction,” and “educate the public about drug addiction as a disease.” The Lynchburg exhibit runs through Friday, Nov. 12.
INTO LIGHT exhibits have also been hosted in Maryland, Ohio, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, with each featuring portraits of people from that state who died from the disease of drug addiction. Future exhibits are planned for Florida and California, and the goal is to have exhibits in all 50 states.
Clower hopes “INTO LIGHT” impacts those who struggle with drug addiction and those who see the disease from the outside. “Because of stigma, 90% of the people who suffer from substance use disorder do not get the help they need,” she said. “We need to change that. [Substance use disorder] is a treatable disease.
“It is my hope that by viewing the portraits and reading the narratives of people who have suffered from this insidious disease, people will begin to change their attitudes about what addiction is and come to see those who have suffered as people just like all of us. We each have our light side and our dark side. No one should be defined by their darkest moments.”
In conjunction with the exhibit, a public workshop will be held from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28. The workshop, “Healing the Stigma of Addictions,” will be led by Sandy Kanehl ’83 MEd, founder and CEO of Roads to Recovery, a local addiction treatment center.
Those who wish to attend are asked to pre-register by emailing their name, email, and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is limited.
“Battered: Donna Ferrato’s Documentation of Domestic Violence” runs through Tuesday, Nov. 23, and represents three decades of work by documentary photographer Donna Ferrato. The photos, taken in women’s shelters, courtrooms, hospitals, prisons, and other locations, expose “the dark side of family life.”
According to an exhibit statement, “Ferrato’s work has ignited decades of advocacy work for survivors of domestic abuse and women’s rights that has helped to attract funding for domestic violence shelters nationwide and educated people on the warning signs of abuse, as well as the obstacles survivors face when trying to leave their abusers.”
The Daura Museum of Art is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. All visitors, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, are required to wear a mask and socially distance while in the gallery.