Tuesday, February 23, 2010

PRESS RELEASE: Annual Atwood Artists Group Exhibit at Vermont Arts Exchange in North Bennington

The Healing Arts: New Pathways to Health, in conjunction with Vermont Arts Exchange (VAE) and United Counseling Service of Bennington County (UCS), presents “The Atwood Artists Group Annual Show,” opening with a reception in VAE’s Mill Gallery, in the Sage Street Mill, on Thursday, March 4, from 4:30 to 6:30 pm. This exhibit, presented in partnership with United Counseling Service of Bennington County (UCS), will be on view in the Mill Gallery through this summer.

The Atwood Artists are a group of about 12 adults who work weekly in VAE’s art studios through UCS’s day service program. Working alongside artist Lorraine Mears and UCS staff, these participants have focused on group and individual artworks for two to three years in VAE’s studios — in doing so, these untrained artists have found their own individual style and manner of working that best suits their creative expression. Since 2006, with support from The Healing Arts: New Pathways To Health program, VAE has been able to provide an innovative, high quality accessible arts and healing partnership program, that builds on 18 years of working with UCS and other social service agencies and schools in the community.

Program Director Patricia Pedreira, MA ATR says, “This culminating exhibit at the Mill Gallery is a labor of love and a key part of this year-round arts and healing partnership program. We are delighted to be able to put the spotlight on such talent, and share this work with the community.”

She adds that “Matching grants from the Jane's Trust, The Vermont Arts Council and the Edwards Foundation, and private donations, have helped us to sustain important partnership programs like this one."

The work in this annual exhibit includes drawings, paintings, mosaic tile artwork and sculpture.

“The artists exhibiting are all faced with various physical and mental challenges in their lives,” says VAE Artistic Director and teacher Matthew Perry. “Each week they gather with great enthusiasm to make art and the amount of work being produced is astonishing. They not only are producing, but several are expanding on their work and exploring different styles and mediums. For some of these artists who have been working in the studio for several years, they’ve established a particular trust and comfort level with their work, which results in incredible pieces.”

Robert Pini, UCS’s community relations director, adds, “For people with developmental disabilities, communication difficulties can be especially frustrating. For them, making art helps satisfy the desire to communicate and share ideas. Creating art is always a wonderful, affirming, confidence-building form of expression — especially so for people whose other channels of communication and expression are not easy.”

Created in 2004, The Healing Arts: New Pathways to Health is a regional arts and healing program developed by the Vermont Arts Exchange, in partnership with the Massachusetts Cultural Council and a consortium of arts and healthcare organizations in Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. This unique program uses the arts as an innovative new treatment method for patients living with chronic disabling diseases. Artist residencies and intergenerational workshops integrate technology, music, theater, dance, filmmaking, ceramics, painting, photography and printmaking into patient care, staff training and wellness programs.

The Healing Arts: New Pathways to Health is a collaborative effort involving artists, health administrators, and faculty and students from universities throughout New England. Participating healthcare sites include Tewksbury Hospital, in Tewksbury, Mass.; Crotched Mountain, in Greenfield, N.H.; and the Vermont Veterans Home, United Counseling Services and the Bennington School, all in Bennington, Vt.

For more information and to learn more about The Healing Arts Program, please visit www.artsandhealing.net. For more information about this exhibit, call VAE at 802-442-5549 or visit www.vtartxchange.org. For information about United Counseling Service of Bennington County, please call 802-442-5491 or visit www.ucsvt.org.