SARASOTA (FOX 13) - A fellowship project from the Carter Center for Mental Health Journalism resulted in art exhibit with a goal: reducing discrimination against people with mental health conditions.
The exhibit - FACEing Mental Illness: The Art of Acceptance - is a way for viewers to experience the often hidden thoughts of someone struggling with their mental health.
People struggling with their mental health were invited to create self portraits, in an effort to explore their feelings and show others what those feelings look like.
Carrie Seidman, a journalist for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, is behind the local installation of the national fellowship. She explained the methods behind the artwork and the ultimate goal of the collection.
"The idea was to invite individuals within the community that had a mental health issue of any kind to create a self portrait that would explore their feelings about their illness, or the way they feel they are perceived by other people because of their illness," Seidman explained. "We held held monthly open art workshops. That ended up in an exhibition of work by 73 individuals."
The exhibit includes a photo and short biography of each artist - which range in age from 10- to 83-years-old.
Viewers gave FOX 13 some insight into how the exhibit touched them.
"It was interesting to see how they portrayed themselves in the artwork, how they felt on the inside, like we couldn't see," Glenda Imhoff, of Englewood, explained. "Cause the more we read and see of how other people feel and what they're going through, the more we can understand."
Debbie Whitaker-Volturo, of Sarasota, described her favorite piece and what she felt the artist was trying to convey.
"One of them had, it was a 3-D piece, and it had... a beautiful outside," Whitaker-Volturo said, adding what she imagined the artist felt. "'This is the part I show to the world, but inside I have all this mess going on,' and it had all this string. So, 'I have this beautiful face for the world, but inside I'm so struggling.' It's just a very moving exhibit, and I just love that it's going to make people aware of mental illness."