Addiction-Based Artwork

An August 2020 exhibition at Post Pilgrim Gallery in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, featured over 25 pieces created by artists combating drug and alcohol addiction. The gallery, dedicated to amplifying the voices of the Native community of South Dakota, also provides an outlet for members of Sioux Falls and the surrounding areas to share their stories. Art allows us to connect with other people and enrich our relationships with ourselves. Through creative production, individuals in recovery can explore the depth of their emotions and, in the process, find control in their lives.

Can Making Art Help Your Mental Health?

The healing properties of art production are what popularized the practice as a treatment for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, substance use disorder (SUD), and other psychological conditions. The Harvard Health Blog reports that art production “can relieve stress, aid communication, and help arrest cognitive decline.” By offering a creative outlet, licensed art therapists afford their patients a space to express their emotions. Subconscious feelings may also arise during the creation of a piece. Through the production of art, individuals can reclaim autonomy over their emotions and experiences. With control comes confidence.

How Is Making Art at Home Different From Art Therapy?

Art therapy can take many forms:  painting, drawing, sculpting, and graphic design are several formats common to treatment programs across the country. A licensed art therapist facilitates sessions, guiding participants through the creative process. Most programs offer classes with multiple participants led by one or two therapists.

Art production at home is a freeform, individual process. You can choose your preferred medium, whether that be two-dimensional, multimedia, digital, musical, or performance art. You may need to consult your local art supplies store to determine which materials you need and which space in your home to reserve as studio space, but, once equipped with the right tools, you are ready to start making art on your own!

Even though your creative process is unaided by the guidance of a therapist, your artwork can draw from your experiences with SUD or AUD and retain therapeutic benefits. Your journey through substance abuse and recovery is a limitless resource for artistic inspiration. You do not, however, have to create pieces that are reflective of your experiences with mental and emotional health. In your studio, you decide what you want to create. Maybe a butterfly outside the window would make the perfect photograph to hang above the kitchen table. Perhaps your favorite pair of socks look like they could use some funky embroidery around the soles. All creative output is art so long as the process and the product spark some joy.

What Steps Should I Take if I Want to Exhibit my Art in a Gallery?

If you are looking to enter pieces into an exhibition space like the Post Pilgrim Gallery, check out your local arts scene. Commercial, Co-Op and Artist-Run, and Rental Galleries all provide opportunities for emerging artists to enter their work.

Commercial Galleries: Commercial galleries are the most exclusive of the group. Some only accept established artists, whereas others welcome new artists to join their ranks. These galleries may require their artists to sell their art exclusively through the gallery. If you are interested in pursuing art as a career, this type of gallery is best suited for your ambitions.
Co-Op and Artist-Run Galleries: Co-Op Galleries are run by the artists who exhibit in the space. Often, interested artists display their work to a jury who votes to accept or reject the artist. These galleries usually require a fee, such as a membership or commission fee, and other services like “studio watching,” or working at the gallery. If you are looking for a community of passionate local artists, this gallery is right for you
Rental Galleries: A Rental Gallery is also run by the artists who exhibit in the space and oftentimes requires members of the gallery to pay a fee. Unlike a Co-op however, your fee will cover the cost to exhibit your work, lasting the duration of your show. If you are looking to create, curate, and control costs in your solo show, check out rental galleries near you.

Production of artworks is a healthy outlet for the release of anxiety, anger, and other emotions related to AUD and SUD. At Silver Lining Recovery, we will provide you with a holistic treatment program tailored to your unique needs and creative inclinations. Our team of dedicated mental health professionals will walk with you as you take the first steps in recovery. We want you to feel confident in yourself and your sobriety inside the facility and, after completion of the program, in your social and professional spheres. If you’re interested in joining our recovery community, please call us today at (866) 448-4563 for a consultation.

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