CASPER, Wyo. — The Central Wyoming Counseling Center is hosting an art show titled “A Journey in My Shoes” from May 6-10.
An opening reception for the show runs from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Monday, May 6 and is free and open to the public.
Four volunteers will share their mental illness recovery stories during the reception and a representative from the National Alliance on Mental Illness will hold a question and answer session.
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The show features artwork done by CWCC clients, staff and families.
“This year, clients have been asked to design a shoe that resembles their mental health journey and recovery,” a CWCC art show pamphlet reads. “Please take a moment to take a journey in their shoes.”
“From the outside, mental illness can seem scary, unpredictable and stigmatized. At CWCC we are here to fight the stigma and teach our communities that it’s okay; it’s okay to ask for help, it’s okay to experience struggles, it’s okay to have a mental illness.”
In addition to the art featured on shoes, the show includes a variety of other pieces. CWCC’s Tabbi Madrigal said that the shoes and some of the other art were made in some of CWCC’s art therapy groups.
“It’s a good way for people to tell their story and a healthy way to cope,” Madrigal said of the art therapy groups.
CWCC’s Alexis Walter said that there are 161 art pieces on display in addition to the 73 shoes.
“There’s probably about 120 different people [showing art],” Walter said. “We wanted to encourage participation from everyone.”
Madrigal emphasized that the show could help people understand mental illness a little better.
“A lot of times, people can view those with mental illness as differently abled,” she said. “We want to combat [mental health] stigmas.”
Madrigal added that this is the second year in a row that CWCC will hold an art show. She said that last year’s theme was to create masks and that this year’s shoe theme was also about getting people to understand the perspectives of those who struggle with mental illness.
“I think one of the clients picked that theme,” she said.
According to Madrigal, the art therapy groups are led by therapists and can provide an environment where people can feel comfortable talking.
“It’s a therapist who has been trained to use art,” she said of who leads the groups. “People can be more willing to talk if they’re focused on [making art].”
Walter said that three judges will select winners in seven categories at CWCC’s art show. There will also be a people’s choice award. Art show attendees can vote for their favorite piece.
Prizes include art materials and gift cards to local art supply shops, Walter added.
While the focus may be on art, CWCC’s Bernice Hazucha wanted to make it clear to people that CWCC offers their services to anyone who needs it.
“We service anyone and we do not turn anyone away, Hazucha said.
CWCC is located at 1430 Wilkins Circle near the Casper Events Center.
The following poem, titled “My Shoes,” is included in the CWCC art show pamphlet:
The soles of my shoes are broken,
But my own soul and spirit have not.
For the journey I trek is never ending,
And the ground I walk hurts a lot.
Some may say it’s an adventure,
Others admit it’s no fun.
If I’m being completely honest,
Some days I just want to be done.
It’s not easy fearing the worst,
It’s hard to resist another drink,
I’m living in a reality that is different than the reality I think.
But here I stand, nonetheless,
Despite the obstacles in my way.
My journey is important, as am I.
I just want you to understand, that’s all I pray.
The soles of my shoes are broken.
For they have walked a million miles alone,
But my soul and spirit are alive.
And my illness, I’ve overcome!