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Recovery program embraces art

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By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. – Thanks to a partnership between The Healing Place of Wake County and Artspace, a nonprofit visual arts center in downtown Raleigh, homeless men and women who are recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction at The Healing Place are experiencing the therapeutic power of art.

For the past year, working with local sculptor Paris Alexander, roughly 60 residents of the men’s facility at The Healing Place have carved personal messages into pieces of limestone that now have been installed as a mosaic at the entrance to the detox center and shelter at the nonprofit’s women’s facility.

The collaborative effort “really is reflecting on the mens’ journey and dealing with messages of hope and struggle and issues they have each dealt with,” says Mary Poole, executive director of Artspace.

Chris Budnick, director of the men’s program at The Healing Place, says the project helped the men “raise awareness of community and extend beyond self by thinking about being of service to somebody else.”

Funded with a $10,000 grant from the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, which publishes the Philanthropy Journal, and $7,500 from the N.C. Arts Council, the collaborative project grew out of an outreach initiative Artspace launched in 2001 to provide art-making opportunities in partnership with social-service agencies, Poole says.

For one of those partnerships, with the Raleigh Rescue Mission, local textile artist Peg Gignoux worked with children who created a collaborative poem on a large piece of cloth that then was exhibited in Artspace and other locations.

“The idea was to get children’s voices heard in the community,” Poole says.

After working with children, Artspace decided to undertake a project that involved adults, an effort that led to the partnership with The Healing Place.

The new installation, Poole says, is a gift to the women at The Healing Place from the men there.

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