Florence Day’s dream has become a reality.
Day is president of National Alliance on Mental Illness Baton Rouge, and she’s aspired to stage an art show featuring work by people living with mental illness.
That show will finally happen when the alliance presents “The Mind’s Eye” art gala and exhibition at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 7, in the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge’s Community Gallery.
The show features 64 pieces by 30 artists. Artwork includes paintings, prints, sculptures, music and poetry.
“All of the artists are living with mental illness, which can be anything from ADHD to paranoia,” says Daphne Grady, Baton Rouge Chapter vice president. “Some artwork will be for sale, and 100 percent of the profits from the arts sales will go to the artist.”
The mission of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Baton Rouge is to raise public awareness of mental illness through free support groups and educational programs. The organization also raises funds for these programs, this time through the art gala’s silent auction, featuring such items as a guitar signed by legendary rockers Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, a Beach Boys drumhead, several framed Blue Dog prints, handmade jewelry and autographed LSU sports memorabilia.
The show’s juror is Melissa Precise, whose husband, Davis, is director of the Louisiana National Alliance on Mental Health. Precise is a student in the LSU School of Art’s master of fine arts program, where she’s working on a degree in video art.
“This was the first time I’ve been a juror, and I didn’t completely know what to expect,” she says. “I was excited about the quality of the work.”
Each artist was allowed to submit up to three pieces with a guarantee that at least one piece would be chosen for the show.
“We have an average of two pieces by each artist,” Precise says. “The subjects vary. We have a lot of Louisiana wildlife, some florals, some regionalist pieces, some abstracts and some cultural pieces with Mardi Gras themes.”
Precise hopes the show will be meaningful to the artists.
“We want it to be a good way to continue to eliminate the stigma of mental illness, which is a slow process,” she says.
“Florence Day has been working toward this for a long time, so it’s definitely a dream come true for all of us,” Grady adds. “We are not professionals but family members and friends of people living with mental illness. We’re a support group, and this is one way we can support them and show their talents.”