Twice a year, the third-floor hallways of the UNC Neurosciences Hospital are transformed. The walls are covered with hundreds of pieces of new art from patients. Called Brushes with Life, the gallery is open to the public daily from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and the works are available for purchase. All proceeds go to the artist.
Julie Pace, an occupational therapist at the hospital and director of the gallery, works with volunteers at the UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health to gather the art and install a new exhibition twice a year.
Since 2001, they’ve collected thousands of submissions, framed most of them thanks to private donations, and installed more than a hundred different pieces of art every fall and spring.
For many of the patients at the hospital, making art is the best kind of therapy. Filmmaker and Brushes with Life participant Philip Brubaker says it well:
“Through creating, the mentally ill find peace. Art springs from the heart and more importantly the mind. A mind that is heavy with anxiety and pain can get a release from art like nothing else. The gallery is the best kind of therapy there is for those who struggle with mental health challenges.”
Last year Endeavors featured a slideshow and story about the gallery, and you can read more about Brushes with Life, including an interactive timeline, at the UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health website.