As Paula Ionescu explains the themes behind her paintings on display at City Hall, she can’t help but smile. Her art utilizes the colors of spring, the time of the year she enjoys most. One of her pieces, “Daffodil,” depicts her favorite flower. But as vibrant as her paintings are, Ionescu hasn’t always been in such good spirits.
Her paintings are the result of art therapy sessions held by Centerstone, an organization that provides mental health and addiction services to more than 18,000 Indiana residents annually. Ionescu says the paintings, which are being displayed as part of this year’s Centerstone “Art of Mental Health” exhibition, have aided in coping with depression. She is not the only person who has found relief in the unconventional sessions.
Shallus Quillen, another Centerstone artist, says the sessions have helped reduce her anxiety. Quillen, who engaged self-destructive activities, says the Centerstone art sessions are the only effective form of therapy she has found. Becoming involved with the sessions has been “the best thing ever,” because it has given her an alternative to self-harm. “It’s easier to paint than hurt myself,” she says.
In 2008, Shu-Mei Chan earned her Masters in Fine Arts at IU and, like most graduates, had to decide the next step in her career. When contemplating this next step, she noticed an inconsistency in the Bloomington art community. According to Chan, though IU has one of the top ceramics programs in the country, Bloomington has few facilities to support these artists after graduation.
“We wanted to stay in Bloomington and saw that missing in the community,” Chan says.
Alongside her husband and fellow accomplished ceramic artist Daniel Evans, Chan made plans to change this inconsistency. The two founded the Bloomington Clay Studio (BCS) with the intent of building a community-based facility that allows artists to continue their education through clay and other mediums.
Tree-hugging is not a bad word.
That was the message speakers conveyed between films at the Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival on Tour on Feb. 26. The event, which was hosted by the Indiana Forest Alliance (IFA) at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, featured nine films highlighting various environmental issues around the world.
Films varied from Sand Dancer, the profile of an artist in New Zealand who creates intricate designs in the sand, to Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars, the story of a coalition of Texans fighting the creation of 11 coal-powered energy plants in their state.
The importance of activism was a heavy theme throughout the night. “I guarantee trouble will find you no matter where you live, so become an activist before it finds you,” Andy Mahler, the festival’s host, told the audience.