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Art therapy on display during Omni Prize festival

Students and veterans share stories through art

The clenched fist with cuts on the wrist by Eric Pierce, of Oakwood High School, illustrates that some teenagers see cutting as a pain reliever and is meant to remind others to seek help if they need it. Pierce added to his display that for more information or help, visit selfinjury.com or call 1-800-Dontcut (366-8288).
The clenched fist with cuts on the wrist by Eric Pierce, of Oakwood High School, illustrates that some teenagers see cutting as a pain reliever and is meant to remind others to seek help if they need it. Pierce added to his display that for more information or help, visit selfinjury.com or call 1-800-Dontcut (366-8288).

Healing can come in many different forms and OSF HealthCare plans to showcase that at this weekend’s OmniPrize for the Arts festival in downtown Ottawa.

Two programs will detail different ways in which individuals can find healing through producing different forms of artwork from paintings and sculptures to photos and song.

It will also act as an introduction of sorts for one of the programs to come to high schools in Ottawa and Streator.

Ellen Vogel, the Community Health Engagement program manager for OSF HealthCare, is spearheading both programs which will be a part of the “Art of Healing” exhibit at 824 La Salle St.

I Sing the Body Electric

The artwork of students from Vermilion County will be on display in the “I Sing The Body Electric” exhibit which takes complex issues many students face and translates them into paintings, photography, creative writing and sculptures.

The program, which is supported by OSF HealthCare Sacred Heart Medical Center in Danville, is started by an initial survey which is used to ask students questions about drugs, drinking and their self-esteem. The results are sent to the University of Illinois and then given back to the school so they can understand what their youth is dealing with. Vermilion County then gives the results to high school arts students to create artwork based on the results.

“It’s fantastic,” Vogel said. “There’s just so many different things and they’re so creative. One piece really stuck with me.”

Vogel said one piece deals with cutting and is a sculpture of a fist with cuts on the wrist. A description of the piece will be nearby which details the artist’s intention to bring awareness to the issue and to offer resources for students in need of help.

Vogel said some students saw the piece and went to faculty to tell them they had been cutting. The students were then able to get the help they needed.

She also noted other pieces and paintings on student self-esteem and drug awareness.

Vogel said she’s already spoken with Ottawa High School, Marquette Academy, Streator High School and Woodland High School who have agreed to begin offering the program.

“This is really a kick off,” Vogel said. "We do have the survey results for La Salle and Livingston County and we can take the results to create artwork locally.”

Vogel said once the program is in place at those schools she hopes it will also be expanded to other high schools in Starved Rock Country.

CreatiVets

The Art of Healing space will also host CreatiVets which helps veterans with service-related trauma express themselves through artwork.

The program has partnered with The School of Art Institute of Chicago and Viriginia Commonwealth University to provide a three-week, full-accredited art program for disabled veterans at no cost.

Veterans are able to take their stories and trauma and create artwork to inspire others or motivate continued healing.

Additionally, the program pairs veterans with nationally-recognized songwriters from Nashville who work with them to convey their experiences through songs which are recorded and made available for the veterans to share.

Chris Gelbuda, an Ottawa native, will perform alongside Tim Fagan and Johnny Bulford as they host concerts throughout the weekend made of songs created by veterans in the program.

Neither the student- or veteran-created work will be eligible for votes or cash prizes during the festival.

Vogel said it’s a great opportunity to learn what others are going through and those in attendance will be able to pick up information for resources should any of the artwork resonate with a visitor.

The artwork will be available from Friday through Sunday.

Concerts will be held at 7 p.m. Friday at Open Table Church, 1 p.m. Saturday in Washington Park and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Heritage Harbor.

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