LIMA — People struggling with mental illness or drug addiction often try to hide their problems.
An exhibit at the Lima Public Library that started Wednesday hopes to use masks literally to uncover the thought processes, fears and feelings someone with these problems goes through.
The Faces of Recovery Mask Project has already been at a Lima Senior High School and The Meeting Place. The Lima Public Library will house the display for one month.
“This exhibit started the idea. Many people in the community really had no idea, ‘What is mental health? What is addiction?’ I wanted to teach people more that this is a chemical imbalance; this is a sickness,” said Maha Zehery, outreach program liaison for Changing Seasons, a division of Coleman Professional Services.
Zehery got the idea for the mask display while having a conversation with another mental health-addiction professional.
“I was talking to the CEO of another agency that works with our same clients, but it’s more geared to art. I was telling him, other than my master’s [degree], I have a degree in art and I always think art, and he said, ‘I have the idea for you.’ He gave us the masks,” she said.
Clients of Changing Seasons and other community members were asked to transform a plain white mask into something meaningful that would explain someone’s fight with addiction or mental illness.
“The reception of the community was amazing. We had teachers, celebrities, juvenile kids, Lima Senior art students, many different people, and the people who came and took a mask and didn’t know anything. I said, ‘Do me a favor: go get the information first, then do your design.’ First it was about the design, then I had this client and he did this mask and I said, ‘What did you do here?’ and he said, ‘I am slashing my ugly face of addiction and I’m looking forward to recovery.’ This really brought a light bulb. The stories behind the design, it gives it more depth. This is what I’m hoping when people come and look at the masks is to read those stories,” she said.
Zehery is working to get the Faces of Recovery Mask Project into the Civic Center as well as OSU-Lima and Rhodes State College.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.