Austin Artists and People Living With Mental Illness Co-create Art Works to Shift Perceptions About Mental Health Through 4 Plus 4 Equals Project

HATCH, Via Hope, and Fusebox partnered to form a citywide visual art project and community conversation series designed to raise public awareness about mental health.

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4 Plus 4 Equals Logo

Our hope is that through the artistic collaborations and community conversations we can begin to shed new light on experiences that are often misunderstood.

Austin, TX (PRWEB) December 02, 2013

HATCH, Via Hope, and Fusebox are launching a citywide visual art project and community conversation series entitled 4 Plus 4 Equals. Designed to raise public awareness and spark conversation about mental health, the project kicks off with an opening reception on December 3rd at the Hyatt Regency in Austin. The launch event will feature the unveiling of original artworks, audio documentaries, and an intimate conversation with participating artists and peers.

At the heart of the project is a series of partnerships between visual artists and people in mental health recovery (peers). Working in pairs, these teams co-created original poster designs intended to inspire, motivate, and provoke engagement with the larger Austin community around mental health.

“4 Plus 4 Equals involves Austin’s vibrant creative sector in a project to inspire public engagement on a challenging social issue in ways that facts alone cannot,” says Ann Beeson, Founder of HATCH and Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities. “Our hope is that through the artistic collaborations and community conversations we can begin to shed new light on experiences that are often misunderstood."

The posters will be distributed throughout the city in coffee shops, restaurants, businesses, shops, and various public spaces. Each poster is accompanied by a short audio-documentary offering an intimate glimpse into the peer’s own lived experience.

A three-part series of community dialogues, which will begin after the December 3rd launch, will provide an opportunity for the general public to engage directly in the project and learn more about mental health as a social change issue.

The 4 Plus 4 Equals’ opening reception falls on the eve of the 2013 Alternatives Conference. Alternatives is the oldest peer-run conference in the United States, and the 2013 theme centers around the idea that individual and collective wellness is enhanced through creating caring, resilient and strong communities that honor and embrace diversity. It has long been funded by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and will draw mental health advocates from around the nation.

The project is generously supported by the Hogg Foundation and Compton Foundation.

Richard Allen White, Michu Benaim Steiner, Lope Gutierrez-Ruiz, Brandi L. Rivera, Rebecca Layton, Jessica Saner, Claudia Gizell Aparicio Gamundi, Elvia Knoll and Brooke Gassiot are the participating artists and peers who co-created the artworks. Please visit http://www.4Plus4Equals.org/teams to learn more about each participant.

For more information please visit our website, http://www.4Plus4Equals.org, where you’ll find the poster art works, audio documentaries, information about upcoming events, information about teams and ways to get involved in the mental health conversation.

About the Project Partners

HATCH (http://www.hatchsocialchange.org) is the coordinating partner for this initiative, providing technical assistance and consultation on effective collaboration between artists and social change leaders, facilitating community dialogue and engagement and assisting with outreach to Austin creative and social change networks. HATCH’s mission is to bring together artists and social change leaders across sectors to solve problems and transform communities. HATCH is a project of the Center for Public Policy Priorities (http://www.cppp.org), which advocates for public policies to expand opportunity for low-income Texans. Ann Beeson and Michelle Dahlenburg are the project staff members from HATCH.

Via Hope (http://www.viahope.org) is the primary mental health partner for the project, providing consultation on relevant issues in mental health and coordination of the involvement of people with lived experience as partners in the project. Via Hope’s mission is to provide education, training and consultation to empower individuals, families and youth to develop resilience, achieve recovery and further mental health system transformation. Anna Jackson and Sarah Martinez are the project staff members from Via Hope.

Fusebox (http://www.fuseboxfestival.com) is the primary arts partner for the project, providing artistic consultation, curatorial support, marketing and PR assistance. They coordinate the involvement of visual artists and designers in the project and producing the actual prints. Fusebox’s mission is to champion groundbreaking works of art across a variety of different media with a focus on innovation, education, collaboration and creating new avenues of conversation. Ron Berry is the project staff member from Fusebox.