Art exhibit features creations from those who utilize art for mental health healing

by Holly Hollman
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ATHENS-Depicting a marching band or trees enveloped by fall foliage through art mediums such as watercolors, acrylics or even crayon is therapeutic.

That’s what clients seeking services through the Athens clinic of the Mental Health Center of North Alabama have discovered. Cathy Fleming, who oversees the clinic’s Rehabilitative Day Program, co-facilitates the art program with Heather Vines. Vines said as the clients work to improve their mental health, they express their emotions through the art. According to a 2022 Smithsonian article, research indicates making art can “activate reward pathways in the brain, reduce stress, lower anxiety levels and improve mood.”

Recently, these artists started sharing their creations with the community. The latest pieces include marching bands, fall foliage, lemonade, the Statue of Liberty and sunsets over the water. One of the marching band pieces depicts a marching band on a highway with the words, “Road to Recovery.”

“We love to visit with our friends from the clinic when they draw chalk art on our sidewalks with messages of encouragement and when they bring us drawings and paintings that we can share at City Hall,” said City of Athens Grant Coordinator/Communications Specialist Holly Hollman. “We can all experience mental health healing by creating and viewing art.”

Art Corner at City Hall

The Athens Mayor’s Youth Commission initiated the Art Corner at City Hall to promote and feature locally made art. It is located in the front foyer. Several pieces from the clinic are featured as part of a community-wide “Friends of the Community Autumn Art Exhibit.”

In conjunction with City Hall, there are pieces of the exhibit on display at High Cotton Arts on Washington Street in Downtown Athens, and the Athens Activity Center on Pryor Street. Amy Golden, director of the Athens Activity Center, said the senior citizens who attend the center welcome the artwork.

“It brings our seniors joy, so we appreciate our community friends sharing their talents with us,” Golden said.


The public can visit City Hall, High Cotton and the center during their operating hours to see the exhibit.


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