Acrylic on Canvas
“My mom was a nurse during WWII. Because of the shortage of nurses in the USA during the war, she was the hospital head nurse in Burbank, California at the age of 21. She told me that the only way they got to take breaks is if they smoked cigarettes. This started a 20 year habit of 3 packs a day. She had 7 children – I was the 7th child. She quit smoking before I was born. I never saw her smoke. Later as a teen I started to smoke. She begged me to quit. I was defiant, but eventually I managed to cut the habit. Years later I watched my mom die gasping for breath, because even though she quit smoking, her lungs were scarred enough to give her chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as her lungs grew more rigid with age. She definitely had a great life, and lived until the age of 87, but it would have been much worse if she hadn’t quit when she did.
I am grateful that I quit smoking, too. I now ride my bike as transportation. Biking keeps me centered and gives me a sense of pride. My painting is of a bike chain. Thank you mom.”
Ruth Lais has been creating art her whole life, but started taking it seriously seventeen years ago. She is a self-taught, prolific artist. Learn more about Ruth here.
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.