FOR MANY individuals with mental illness, art is a way to express feelings, pain and sorrow that words cannot describe. In addition, the work can foster a sense of self-esteem and confidence when these artists realize they've created pieces others find meaningful.
Such is the goal of the "New Ventures Artists" exhibit at Carroll Community College, which runs through Oct. 11 in the school's Great Hall. Each of the more than 40 pieces in the show has been created by a student in the New Ventures program at Dulaney Station in Timonium.
Dulaney Station, a subsidiary of the Sheppard Pratt Foundation, provides rehabilitation services to individuals suffering from mental illness.
"This art show has been so helpful," said Joan Freeman Robertson, a Community College of Baltimore County instructor who has taught at New Ventures for 13 years. "[The artists]are so encouraged that others can enjoy their work. It's been a real good motivator."
Robertson's classes, which are held at Dulaney Station as part of CCBC's Continuing Education Special Populations Program, are part of the recreation and socialization opportunities New Ventures offers to clients dealing with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorders.
Many of the clients are seeking ways to stabilize themselves emotionally and become productive members of the community after hospitalization, Robertson said. They find in the art group a comfortable, supportive environment in which to begin reaching out to others.
"They're very supportive of their art and each other," Robertson said. "Each person has their own style and perspective. My job is to nurture that, rather than to get them all to paint alike."
The works in this exhibit range from watercolors to a political cartoon featuring Vice President Al Gore, said Robertson, who received her master's of fine art degree from Instituto Allende in Mexico.
"Many of these adults are exceptionally bright and gifted," she said, noting that some can recreate detailed drawings from memory. "I find that their art is a very honest and spontaneous expression. Sometimes, trained artists can lose that."
The exhibit is on display from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Sets of 10 greeting cards featuring paintings from this exhibit are available from New Ventures, 1931 Greenspring Drive, Timonium 21093.
Health for all seasons
Learn about "Living in Harmony with the Seasons" from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Women's Center, 291 Stoner Ave., Westminster.
Registered nurse Sandra Mican will demonstrate how becoming more sensitive to nature's rhythms and patterns can enhance health and well-being.
Fees are $5 for the course, and registration is required.
A multicultural afternoon
Join individuals from across the county to celebrate the area's diverse populations.
A multicultural picnic will take place from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at 29 John Owings Road in Westminster.
Participants are asked to bring a dish, a lawn chair and an open attitude. In case of rain, the picnic will be canceled.
Information: Aurora M. Pagulayan, 410-875-0096.
Literature and Liszt
Discover the connections between composer Franz Liszt and literature during a free presentation Sept. 25 at Western Maryland College.
Pianist and professor David Kreider will give the lecture at 7 p.m. in McDaniel Lounge on the college campus.
Amy L. Miller's Central neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.