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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Art As Medicine

NIDA Debuts Community Exhibit in Clinic Spaces

Two paintings hang side-by-side

The recently displayed artwork is hung in the outpatient clinics at the NIDA IRP Bayview campus. At left, Portrait of Jerry Elston painted by Jessica Schlegel (the picture has a darker left side and a lighter right side to signify Jerry “leaving the darkness and coming into the light…facing each day knowing his demons are behind him and that he’s heading on to a brighter future.”) At right, Portrait of Leah Scott painted by Jill Glassman, who described Leah as “a woman of immense energy, joy and exuberance.”

Two paintings hang side-by-side

The Community Art Collective pairs art with medicine to promote healing. At left, Portrait of Jim Lavrich painted by Jim Rehak, who Lavrich described as “a thoughtful hard-working man with both feet on the ground”). At right, Portrait of Julia Burr Roveti painted by Katrin Huber. The artist shows a “wave of creative spirit and fun with the splash of colors around her” alongside “the sad version of her in the back…if only as a shadow of the past.”

Three paintings hang side-by-side on a wall. Three chairs are lined up beneath them.

Guests at NIDA IRP clinics can enjoy the exhibit on display. The art shown (from l): Portrait of Taylor Gordon painted by artist Joanne Guilfoil; Portrait of Todd Cauffman painted by artist Jacki Yamin (the work features Todd and a painted bear that Yamin explained is “small and peaceful as it sleeps, but awake it is wild and uncomfortable; that is addiction”); Portrait of Kristin Jones–KoKo painted by Teri Edgeworth, who says, “behind her smile is the best kept secret, just like looking at the Mona Lisa.”

Hope and new beginnings. Those messages ring true at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) with the most recent debut of the NIDA Intramural Research Program (IRP) Community Art Collective. 

The unprecedented effort pairs art with medicine to promote healing in an aesthetically pleasing environment and as part of a larger initiative to help de-stigmatize addiction care. 

NIDA plans to rotate artwork in the outpatient clinics at the IRP Bayview campus in Baltimore throughout the year.

The first exhibit on loan from the Art League of Ocean City, “Portraits of Recovery,” is now on display. The remarkable project illustrates on canvas and in verse, the intimate experiences of people living with addiction expressed through the eyes of the artists and individuals portrayed. 

The interactive exhibit is complemented by additional new artwork displayed throughout NIDA clinics depicting local landmarks and nature, donated by local artist and NIDA staff member Golnar Miamee, a health communication strategist serving the IRP recruitment and outreach team. 

NIDA staff hope that the collective will continue to bring people together to better understand addiction and help overcome the stigma of addiction.

“Artistic expression offers a voice to people with addiction and the walls of our clinics at the NIDA IRP have come alive,” said NIDA Clinical Director Dr. Lorenzo Leggio. “Merging our clinical needs with the power of art is allowing us to unify the importance of our mission to do cutting-edge clinical research with the beauty of art. We here at NIDA are grateful for this opportunity to provide a platform of all patients and families living with addiction.” 

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