Bend art show aims to shift mental health viewpoints

'Bending Perspectives' seeks to change stigma

Special Bend art show 'Bending...

BEND, Ore. - Bending Perspectives, an art show held Friday at the Old Stone Performing Arts Center, was not your typical such event. It was designed as a way for the community to come out and speak with artists challenged by mental health issues, from anxiety and depression to schizophrenia, about their experience, to help create more understanding on both sides of the conversation.

The event, marking Mental Health Awareness Month, had as a subtitle: “Bridging Communities Through Art.”

Advocates also were on site to share information and community resources during the event, held at the Old Stone Performing Arts Center during May’s First Friday Art Walk.

One local artist, Sydnee O'Loughlin, started drawing for fun in third grade. Now, she uses art as therapy to work through her anxiety and depression. She said putting her feelings on paper helps her cope. 

"With everything going on in my head it's a lot easier to just get it out than to just say it," O'Loughlin said.

She said many people don't understand what it's like to have anxiety, when even deciding to take a shower can be difficult.

"It's not the easiest thing in the world," O'Loughlin said, "It's something you have to think about. It's little things like that that people don't think about." 

The artists hope the Bending Perspectives art show  will begin to change the stigma of talking about mental health.

The event has a dream of art therapist Elizabeth Meals of the Deschutes Recovery Center.. 

"I really wanted to find a way for everybody to see them the way I see them," Meals said, "and really pull out their strengths, instead of focusing on the negatives."

Meals said art is magical, and each piece is a self-portrait. 

Another artist, Lauren Zivney, said art is spontaneous and helps her along her journey. 

"Seeing it laid out and it's a finished product, I have an issue with finishing things I started," Zivney said, "Finishing little things is a step in the right direction." 

These artist want you to know they're just people and to remember the Golden Rule.

"I'm still a person, no matter how hard it's been," Zivney said. "(You) still have to treat me the same way that someone would treat you." 

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