“Naptime” by Julia C. Spencer


Ink on Paper

“Naptime is a piece I made due to my love of dogs. Dogs calm me down in times of high stress. They’re my favorite thing in the whole world. This particular dog is a friend’s in New York. He’s a rescued pit bull who is funny and sweet.

I feel like pit bulls and people with mental illness are alike in the fact that people are stuck on the label and stigmatize us because of it. If they would just take the time to get to know us, their minds could be changed.

Naptime was one of the first animal portraits I made. It made me feel accomplished and content to complete it. Making and sharing art makes me feel like I’m contributing something to society. I especially enjoy people’s reactions to my artwork. They are their own beings after I’m done with them, and that makes me happy.” See more of my art here.


Avivo Artworks

Since 2004, Avivo ArtWorks, formerly Spectrum ArtWorks, has been working to support professional artists living with mental illness. Located at the Lighthouse, a Community Support Program in Minneapolis, the program meets its mission through a community-focused and recovery-based approach. Its multi-faceted art studio and programming assists artists at reaching and maintaining their artist-related goals such as making new art, connecting with other artists, and accessing exhibition and grant opportunities.

In addition to this, each year the program organizes a new exhibition that aims to meet its mission to challenge stigma and raise mental health awareness. In 2015, the program partnered with the Minneapolis Institute of Art to bring “In Conversation,” a residency and exhibition that featured 17 artists from the program. Each participant created a new piece of art that was in conversation with an object or artwork in the museum’s collection. In 2017, Avivo ArtWorks facilitated “The Big Picture,” a group exhibition that presented artwork that explored wellness in recovery through art. “To Really See,” opening August 2017 at the Hennepin County Library – Central Minneapolis, is Avivo ArtWorks first every traveling group exhibition. The show explores the medication-taking experience and will feature artwork from artists who use Avivo ArtWorks services and artists from across the state of Minnesota.


Jes Reyes, MA
Arts Specialist
Avivo ArtWorks 
612-752-8282 | jes.reyes@avivomn.org