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Smack in the middle of mental illness awareness week, a group of individuals will be spending Thursday combining art and mental health advocacy on Thursday at Vail-Leavitt Music Hall.
Creative Explorations Network, a group who seeks “to self heal and build connections through artistic expression” according to their website, will host an artists’ exhibition and mental health awards luncheon from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
The daylong event is open to the public and features an art gallery with works from nearly 20 artists, live music, and a presentation of two short films. The Mosaic Voices Show, an original one-act play, will be performed in the evening, and awards will be given to people who have performed outstanding advocacy work, particularly in the mental health field.
“It’s really more of a human rights celebration,” said Julie Burroughs Erdman, the group’s founder and associate director. “That’s the crux of what we’re doing.”
Founded in 2011, Creative Explorations Network is composed of artists, writers, filmmakers, photographers, musicians, and other craftspeople, according to their website. They meet primarily at members’ houses, usually on the East End.
“Flashbacks From My Past,” an animated documentary produced by artist and filmmaker Irra Verbitsky, is one of two short films that will play at Thursday’s event. Ms. Verbitsky, who lives in New York City and has a studio in Baiting Hollow, said the 13-minute movie is a blend of three of her other short films — “Starry Night, “Departure,” and “The Portrait.”
“Flashback From My Past,” Ms. Verbitsky said, is based on events from her life, such as the experience of being a little girl during World War II. An animation professor at New York City’s School of Visual Arts, Ms. Verbitsky drew each scene in “Flashback From My Past” by hand.
“It’s about my life, but it’s my life within the scope of what is going on in the world,” Ms. Verbitsky said of the film’s theme. Some of her paintings and drawings will also be displayed at the event’s art gallery, she said.
“Her films are so moving,” Ms. Burroughs Erdman said of Ms. Verbitsky’s work. “Part of what we want to do is kind of show the resilience of the human spirit, and part of the way to do that effectively is to sort of contrast what’s worst about humanity with what’s best.”
Guests can register for the exhibition and luncheon at www.creativeexplorations.org. If attending the luncheon, the event is $15 per person. All other guests are asked to make a suggested $10 donation, Ms. Burroughs Erdman said.