maroon wave
'Portraits of Recovery' exhibit
Pictured, from left: Katie Joyce, Art League of Ocean City gallery manager; Katrin Huber, Art League of Ocean City education director and project manager for the Stigma Project; Izzy Huber, participating portrait artist; Dr. Dane Foust, SU vice president of student affairs; Mark Andrews, SU University Dining Services assistant director for Commons dining; Owen Rosten, University Dining Services director; Debbie Smullen, Worcester Goes Purple president and initiator of the Stigma Project; Elizabeth Kauffman, associate professor of art and director of SU Art Galleries; and Jessica Schlegel, participating portrait artist.

SU Hosts 'Portraits of Recovery' Exhibit This Fall

SALISBURY, MD---“It took kind of losing everything to even realize I had a problem.”

That’s how Salisbury entrepreneur Leah Scott describes her first step toward addiction recovery nearly five years ago. The Minneapolis native is one of 12 Delmarva residents spotlighted in the exhibit “Stigma Highlighted: Portraits of Recovery,” hanging in Salisbury University’s Commons dining hall beginning during National Recovery Month in September and continuing through the fall semester.

An initiative of the opiate addiction recovery awareness and support organization Worcester Goes Purple, under the direction of president Debbie Smullen, and the Art League of Ocean City, the Stigma Highlighted project paired artists with individuals in recovery living and working in Wicomico, Worcester, Somerset and Talbot counties. The resulting portraits of each community member include QR codes linked to videos of the subjects telling their stories of addiction and recovery.

“The powerful collaboration allowed the artists to highlight the bravery and resilience of the addiction survivors for the community to see,” said Katrin Huber, Art League of Ocean City education director.

The ultimate goal: challenge misconceptions and negativity toward those battling addiction.

Artists whose works appear in the exhibit found their subjects to be not only engaging but, in most cases, people they may have interacted with in their own communities and daily lives.

“Speaking with Brandon, it very quickly became clear to me that he was one of the most down-to-earth and humble people I had ever met,” said artist Izzy Huber of her subject, Brandon O’Brien of Berlin, MD. “His story inspired me in many ways.”

Many participants noted that, in addition to changing perceptions, they hoped their stories also helped serve as an inspiration for others struggling with similar issues.

“I don’t worry about the things I used to back then,” said James Lavrich, a peer recovery specialist with the Worcester County Health Department whose addiction issues began at age 12 and continued into his adult life. “Everything back then was worrying about where you were going to get your next drug or your next high from. Today, I get high on the sunset. I get high from waking up early and taking a walk with my dog.”

“I’m excited to tell my story because it gives other recovering addicts — or people who want to come into recovery — it gives them a hope shot,” said Jessica Cullen of Somerset County. “There’s true freedom in recovery.”

Exhibiting artists include Megan Burak, Reeves Dark, Teri Edgeworth, Jill Glassman, Joanne Guilfoil, Izzy Huber, Katrin Huber, Jim Rehak, Maggii Sarfaty, Jessica Schlegel, Misha Shipman and Jacki Yamin.

SU officials selected the Commons as the location for the exhibit due to its position as a high-traffic area providing access for both students and campus visitors. Those planning to park on campus must register in advance for a free parking pass.

Artwork and videos from the exhibit also are available online.

For more information about the Art League of Ocean City, visit the Art League of Ocean City website.

Learn more about opportunities to Make Tomorrow Yours at the SU website.