For more than 35 years, a partnership between ArtsWestchester and the Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health has provided art services and residencies to people with chronic mental illnesses. This has allowed these individuals to participate in hands-on art workshops and enjoy live performances. This month, the two organizations, along with Rockland Psychiatric Center, will present Visions 2021, an annual exhibition that showcases artworks by the recipients of mental health services.
This year’s theme, “Unmasked” speaks to everyday life in Westchester and beyond. While people all around the world are masked due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these artists have unburdened themselves and “unmasked” through their creativity.
According to ArtsWestchester CEO Janet T. Langsam: “Now more than ever, people truly understand how the arts keep us healthy and well. Through the difficult months of COVID-19, arts activities helped to keep people engaged and creative.”
Michael Orth, Commissioner of Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health, adds that the opportunity to participate in the arts “is an important component of people’s recovery and support.” He adds: “Especially during these most challenging times, the arts help to promote a sense of connectedness, expression and self-discovery that is important to all of us.”
The Visions 2021 exhibition, which will be virtual this year, not only highlights the talent of people who are the recipients of mental health services, but it also aims to demonstrate that these individuals are capable of engaging in challenging art-making experiences.
Says Langsam: “We all know that artwork can allow people a way to communicate things that they otherwise are unable to voice. The arts also reduce stress while promoting healing, coping and connection.”
This virtual exhibition will feature original artworks by more than 50 artists, which will be on view in early October at ArtsWestchester’s website.
A version of this article first appeared in the October issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.