MOUNTAIN PEAK Jessica Evans knows the psychological benefits of the arts – how creating can calm the mind.
Her understanding helped inspire her art/recovery program called Culture of Recovery.
“I got the idea for Culture of Recovery after meeting an apprentice luthier in Hindman who was very honest about his struggles with addiction and he thought learning about the trade had helped him a lot on his journey to recovery. healing,” Evans said. She was the director of the Appalachian Artisan Center there. “I personally know that art has the ability to calm my own restless mind and provide a release from stress and a sense of accomplishment. I have seen the effects of substance abuse in this area and I felt called to offer support in the way I knew how – by sharing the healing benefits of art.
The Appalachian Craft Center offers:
- Art slams, which allow participants to complete a single work of art in different media in one session and experience a sense of completion and creation while exploring new skills and media.
- Art Journeys, which allow participants to engage in artistic mentorship programs on a weekly basis during their recovery, learning skills that start at the basic level and progress to artistic mastery, pottery, lutherie and the forge. Business courses complete the program.
- Community Engagement, which creates a platform for people in recovery to dispel stigma and find a place within a community beyond drugs and addiction. Narrative stage presentations, square dancing, interactive public art, live songwriting performances, and the Oral History Collection allow our attendees to address and engage with the community in its together.
Evans wanted to make full use of Hindman’s studios while providing art lessons for those recovering from addiction. So potters, blacksmiths and luthiers were hired to present workshops at the Hickory Hill Recovery Center in Emmalena and Knott County Drug Court in Hindman.
“The results of this program were great to see,” Evans said. “I’m proud to say that the Culture of Recovery program continued in my absence and even expanded with the founding of Troublesome Creek Stringed Instrument Co., where CoR-trained luthiers were hired to build stringed instruments. full time at Hindman. Unfortunately, the Appalachian Artisan Center suffered a major setback with the July floods in this area and it may be some time before these programs can resume.
She said starting the program was easy, as there were so many talented artists and artisans in the area.
“Now these same people have discovered the vast benefits of art on well-being and have become its strongest supporters,” she said, adding that the program is gaining more and more acceptance. “It won’t be a magic bullet for the opioid crisis or substance abuse in general, but for some people it can build essential life skills and encourage the productive expression of emotions through art. and even if it only reaches some people, it’s still pretty good.
Evans, a Boyd County native and resident, was recently elected vice president of the Kentucky Craft History and Education Association, which aims to preserve and promote craft history in the Commonwealth.
“As a potter and craftsman myself, tradition is important to me. I am continually in awe of the incredible artists and artisans in our state,” she said.
In 2020, Evans joined the Kentucky Community and Economic Development Initiative as an Arts Extension Associate, where she developed a statewide curriculum and toolkit for use by those that aim to strengthen substance abuse programs using art.
Being at home in Summit and living in the house of her deceased grandparents sparked a different view of art.
“As I renovate my grandparents’ house, I keep coming across objects of beauty covered in layers of dust – old fishing maps from my grandfather, paintings and quilts made by parents, photographs, books, shop tools, plates and cups I ate as a child,” she said, noting that the items offer more than sentimental value when displayed and shared. “I dusted off these objects, put them on display in my own home, so that I could tell the stories of these objects when visiting friends or family.”
Similarly, Evans said, artists participating in Culture of Recovery share their experiences in their creations.
“The artists themselves translate their experiences and traditions across Kentucky into a work of art and we collect those stories,” she said. “Putting the exhibits into an exhibit and bringing those stories to the public is incredibly rewarding. I love the idea that other people can see something that inspires them to create something new, or learn a craft, or investigate the history of crafts they may already have. at their home.