DHMC art exhibit shows the faces of mental illness

  • George Mitchell, of Littleton, N.H., looks at photographs that are part of the art show "99 Faces" at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center on Thursday, March 28, 2019. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Peter Arnold, a carpenter at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, hangs a section of a DNA strand at the medical center's rotunda on Thursday, March 28, 2019. Artist, Lynda Michaud Cutrell's show "99 Faces" is on display at the medical center. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Anthony Rider, left, a repairs and maintenance worker at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Peter Arnold, a carpenter at the hospital, Marianne Barthel, director of the DHMC Arts Program, and artist Lynda Michaud Cutrell discuss how to hang the DNA strand Cutrell has made for her show "99 Faces" at the medical center on Thursday, March 28, 2019. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Artist Lynda Michaud Cutrell's show "99 Faces" is now on display at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H. Cutrell was at the hospital on Thursday, March 28, 2019, to hang the show. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • "Learning" an oil painting by Artist Lynda Michaud Cutrell ,the piece is part of Cutrell's show “99 Faces” on display at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 3/30/2019 10:18:24 PM

LEBANON — Everybody knows somebody dealing with mental illness. But there’s a good chance you don’t know who that person is.

That’s one of the premises behind “99 Faces,” a photography exhibit by Boston-based artist Lynda Michaud Cutrell on display at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center from April to September.

The 99 people photographed make up three even groups: Some have bipolar disorder, some have schizophrenia and some are people who love those with either illness.

“We have champions in all walks of life,” Cutrell said as she worked to set up the exhibit on Thursday, pointing out that society celebrates survivors of cancer and people battling other physical illnesses. “I was like, where are the champions of schizophrenia and bipolar?”

Survivors of mental illness — and their loved ones — should be celebrated too, but instead “we ‘other’ them,” Cutrell said, which can be a barrier to treatment.

The portraits feature unnamed people ages 2 to 95 from various walks of life photographed against a black velvet background. The portraits evoke the feeling that the subject is standing right in front of you.

That’s part of the point, Cutrell said. When people’s perceptions about mental illness change, “it’s usually because you meet a person.”

She became interested in working with people with mental illnesses after learning about a family member who was coping with one.

“Once I found one family member, I realized there were other family members,” she said.

Cutrell worked on the project on and off for six years. She met many of her subjects through the nonprofit organization National Alliance on Mental Illness and used the 2010 census as a guide to make sure they reflected the greater makeup of the United States.

She said she was surprised at the positive reaction from the project’s subjects.

“I think how open people became when I gave them this space to be part of something important,” Cutrell said. “It was kind of like a new social value.”

When the exhibit premiered at the Museum of Science in Boston, some of the participants went together to see it and even stood beside their portraits taking selfies.

“That was just a really neat thing,” Cutrell said. “They felt proud.”

In addition to the portraits, the exhibit features a representation, built with copper coils hanging in 44 pieces above DHMC’s first-floor entrance desk, of a DNA strand of a man with schizophrenia.

“Whoever it would be, there are some genes that contribute,” Cutrell said as she supervised the installation, which involved two DHMC employees and a hydraulic lift. “Everyone has this really randomized possibility” of getting schizophrenia.

“99 Faces” made its way to DHMC through John Broderick, a former chief justice for the New Hampshire Supreme Court who is now the senior director of public affairs for D-H. Broderick is an advocate for ending the stigma that surrounds mental illness.

Marianne Barthel, arts program coordinator at DHMC, said the organization wants to use the exhibit “as a catalyst for addressing needs in our community.”

“This is exactly how I was to utilize the arts,” she said.

Those conversations were starting on Thursday as people walked by the exhibit installation, often pausing to ask questions about it.

“It makes it safer for people because it’s not so personal,” Barthel said. “It’s a lot easier to get people together when there’s something physical to focus on, just not a meeting agenda.”

One of the people who paused was Mary Evanofski, vice president of population health, primary care and psychiatry at DHMC.

The faces in the exhibit “represent our friends, our family, our patients and remind us that we have an obligation to take care of each other,” Evanofski said.

Alan Green, director of psychiatry at DHMC, agreed, adding that they’re also our neighbors.

“We hope this exhibit will help people understand (that),” Green said. “As a society, we need to realize that this is part of our responsibility.”

Editor’s note: For more information about the exhibit, visit D-H.org/arts/99-faces.html. Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.




Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784
603-298-8711

 

© 2019 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy