Emory schizophrenia experts unveil artist-liaison program

Artists showing work through the new Artist Liaison Program in Emory's Schizophrenic Dis-orders Program are accomplished artists with schizophrenia, not schizophrenic patients with artistic talent.

"The distinction is an important one," said Richard Lewine, director of the Schizophrenic Disorders Program in the medical school's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, "and one we want to promote through the new Artist Liaison Program. Even with a disorder like schizophrenia, persons can have areas of

high-functioning. We want the public to focus on those, rather than on the psychopathology."

The Artist Liaison Program provides a forum through which artists who are mental health service consumers may display their work. Public viewing hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays on the fourth floor of Uppergate Pavilion.

Currently, nine signed prints by local artist D.H. are on display. The artist received his bachelor's of arts in studio arts from the University of Pittsburgh in 1978. He has been chosen to participate in juried arts shows and most recently has displayed his work at Campion Gallery in Covington. The pieces on display now at Emory reflect the evolution of D.H.'s art, from an early focus on realism to his current abstract expressions.

Lewine explains that some artists report their creativity is sometimes harder to access after onset of the illness; schizophrenia can impede motor skills. For others, creativity is easier to access.

Another artist beginning to show work through the Emory program has seen her creativity blossom in the past year. "I've had no formal training in art, though I've always dabbled in it," R.M. said. "But I wasn't serious about it until about a year ago. At that time I remember walking down an aisle in a five & dime when I just stopped in my tracks; my feet felt like they were stuck to fly paper. At the end of the aisle I saw a large sketch book. I bought it and starting drawing. Pictures just flew out of me -- about two a night for two months. Sometimes it's a battle; sometimes it's smooth. Finishing a drawing always gives me a sense of accomplishment, a sense of worth."

All proceeds from the sales of work shown through the Artist Liaison Program go directly to the artist. Faculty are working with other artists to coordinate future shows.

Anyone with an interest in either helping out with the program or showing their work may contact the program at 727-5907.

- Lorri Preston