A painting on display at the Elk Grove Fine Arts Center shows a young woman swimming in a room full of water. She's just broken through the surface, and she's taking a big gulp of air.
Titled "Breath," it explores the same theme as the other 27 pieces in the gallery's new exhibit—finding hope after a long period of isolation and darkness.
The pieces are part of "Journey of Hope," a Sacramento County initiative to raise awareness around mental illness. Project participants wrote down their stories of depression, addiction, trauma and more and gave them to local artists. The artists had to capture those experiences in two-and-three-dimensional art pieces.
Exhibit coordinator and artist Laura Bemis says visuals are one way to break down the stigma around heavy topics.
"I hope that people will see that there is hope and recovery in mental illness, and realize that it's not a life sentence but a journey people can go through and find help for."
Anita Lincoln Pearson was the inspiration for a piece called "Not Alone." In a letter about the project on display at the gallery, she says:
"This show is the first step of exposure. I have avoided the truth my entire life. Sharing this story gives me an opportunity to finally let the stigma go within me. Mental illness is you, your mother, your best friend and your lover. It's all of these people. I am no longer ashamed to be a part of this."
This is the third year that the Sacramento County "Stop Stigma" campaign has presented the show. It's funded through statewide Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act.
There will be an opening reception at 3p.m. October 7th at the Elk Grove Fine Arts Center at 9080 Elk Grove Blvd. The exhibit runs until October 21st.
For more informationa bout mental illness, visit www.stopstigmasacramento.org.