There is tap practice going on in the next room. Our musical theatre college freshman made a miraculous effort to move herself out of her downtown Chicago apartment, into storage, and got herself on a plane home. Never has loud tapping, beginner piano practice, and a car ride filled with show tunes sounded better.
She is not the only one home. Besides Iain working in our AirBnB cottage (Ocean Alliance offices are temporarily closed), there are twenty portraits home safe. Yesterday the three of us entered a deserted shopping mall, and with a backdrop of shopping music, and tv screens playing to no one, we took down the I Am More: Massachusetts exhibit. The only other humans were a security guard who let us in, and two women cleaning at a distance. The mall is not closed yet, but the closest neighbor to the exhibit, Macy’s, has shuttered, so that seemed like our cue to get out while we could.
Brattleboro Memorial Hospital continues to host the original sixteen portraits, currently scheduled until the end of April.
The western Massachusetts exhibit of I Am More: Massachusetts at UMass Amherst for this spring is postponed indefinitely, but they seem to be open to the possibility of moving it to the late fall. The Massachusetts State House exhibit is still scheduled for May 11-15. Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown has canceled their 3-month exhibit for this summer, deciding that the series does not feature enough disability for them. But I’ve forged a new partnership with a brand-new teen drop-in center in downtown Gloucester, who are looking forward to hosting portraits as soon as they open. And future exhibits include Briarwood Retirement Community in Worcester and the Wellesley Free Library.
Here are the last two messages I received in response to the mall exhibit:
I stopped by to admire your talented art in the north shore mall. But your exhibit was more than that and it touched me immensely. I love gifted artists but your art goes beyond that. Being a survivor of an attempted suicide I could relate to you and your subjects. Thank god I have dealt with my depression and I have a great support system.Your exhibit made me cry and realized I lucky I am to see your work and read the stories associated with the portraits.You made my day.
I happened upon your exhibit yesterday and had to tell you how blown away I was by your very personal story, amazing talent and mission. Sharing your truth along with that of so many others is something much needed in this crazy world of “shaming” brought on by so many sources from politics to social media. We all need the stories your subjects were so willing to share as inspiring examples of survival against all odds and a means to help all of us learn to be more empathetic. Nobody knows the journey any of us is on, but reading the struggles of others makes an instant connection that can be extremely healing to others with similar pain.Your artwork in itself is beautiful and the stories will help many so thank you for sharing all of it and I hope the exhibit remains for a very long time.
During these strange times, you might want to check on those with mental health challenges who are now more isolated than ever. Even if we can’t visit them we can let them know that they’re not alone.
We’ll see you on the other side.