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Artists Show Human Side of Addiction and Recovery

Innovators Art & Addiction Contest Winners Use Powerful Images to Convey Impact of Substance Abuse

Contact:  Dennis Tartaglia/Kelly Peterson/Martha Cid
(212) 481-7000

Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 2007 – A retired orthopedic surgeon from Tennessee who sculpted twelve bronze hands to illustrate the 12 steps he has taken in recovery from addiction… three Maryland eighth graders, whose drawings illustrate anti-drug themes… a man incarcerated in Ohio whose work “Ashes” is sketched in cigarette ash and whose use of cigarettes in his paintings symbolizes “any kind of addiction”… a Timonium, Maryland high school junior, whose painting illustrates the nature of addiction by showing cigarette smoke trailing off into a spider web…
      These are just a few of the talented visual artists whose powerful work was recognized in the Fourth Annual Art and Addiction Juried Art Exhibition and Contest sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Innovators Combating Substance Abuse Awards Program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.  Winners were chosen following judging at the recent Dr. Lonnie E. Mitchell National HBCU Conference in Washington, DC.  Seventy entries were received – the most ever for this exhibition. The winners’ work will be shown next at the annual College on Problems of Drug Dependence meeting, June 2007 in Quebec City, Canada. 
      “The value of this art is its capacity to help us see both the destructive power of addiction and the new life born in recovery,” says Jack E. Henningfield, Ph.D., Director of the Innovators Awards Program and Professor of Behavioral Biology, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.  “Each year, I am astounded by not just the quality of the work submitted, but its power.  We are proud to continue to support this project, and to showcase these talented and dedicated artists.”

This year’s adult winners include:

  • Dr. Sam T. Barnes, Cookeville, Tennessee, for Hands of Recovery
  • Julia Carpenter, Bozeman, Montana, for Amy Johnson (1980-2005)
  • Margaret Dowell, Woodsboro, Maryland, for Letting Go
  • Scott Entze, St. Clairsville, Ohio, for Ashes
  • Ray Materson, Wynantskill, New York, for Accepting Help: A Choice for Light II
  • Teddy Ann Richardson, Randallstown, Maryland, for Break the Cycle

Winners in the junior category are:

  • Darrian Fields (eighth grade), Windsor Mill, Maryland, Split in Two
  • Javon Fisher (eighth grade),Windsor Mill, Maryland, for Don’t Do Drugs, Your Youth May Fade
  • Laiba Masood (11th grade), Timonium, Maryland, for Stuck in the Web of Addiction
  • Anthony Washington (eighth grade), Windsor Mill, Maryland, Rotting Mind                  

      Winners receive a $500 consultancy with the Innovators Program to further discuss the role of art in recovering from substance abuse and addiction.  All work will be posted to the Innovators Web site, www.InnovatorsAwards.org, and will be included in the 2008 Art and Addiction Calendar.
      Many of the winners have had personal experiences with addiction that influence their work.  Julia Carpenter, a professional artist, composed a startling series portraits of her late sister, who died two years ago of a drug overdose, in progressive stages of addiction-related disintegration.  Carpenter says that the portraits express the “persistence of my grief despite all outward appearances.”  Margaret Dowell, an artist, art historian and college art instructor, states that her painting “Letting Go” was created as a visualization piece for a friend addicted to drugs.  Teddy Ann Richardson, a high-school arts educator, used paintings of bottles – some with people trapped inside – to illustrate her wish to break the cycle of addictions that affect members of her family. Renowned “outsider” artist Ray Materson, who is in recovery himself, fashioned his piece from sock thread – a medium he has used since he first became a visual artist while in jail.
      Creativity and artistic expression play a significant role in both recovery and in raising awareness of the personal toll caused by substance abuse and addiction.  The National Program Office of Innovators Combating Substance Abuse has organized several events on art and addiction, acknowledging this creativity-recovery connection and using art to place a human face on addiction and recovery.  
     Innovators Combating Substance Abuse is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  The program’s mission is two-fold:  to recognize individuals who have made noteworthy contributions to what is known about controlling and preventing substance abuse with an award of $300,000 to continue their efforts in addiction control; and to drive innovations in addiction control by extending and facilitating the innovators’ efforts through its National Program Office, which is part of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.  For more information, please visit www.InnovatorsAwards.org.

Copyright 2004 The Johns Hopkins University. Baltimore, Maryland.
All rights reserved. Last Updated January 15, 2010

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