West Nebraska Arts Center, Cirrus House partner for ‘Selfie’ exhibit

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AARON SEANEY Staff Reporter aseaney@starherald.com | Posted: Monday, July 4, 2016

The West Nebraska Art Center is packing a lot in July having just opened its “New Way to See” exhibit as well as partnering with Cirrus House for the first time for a second exhibit to be on display in July and August called “SELFIES: The Faces of Mental Health.”

“Sam from Cirrus House came and wanted to do some type of project with us. We want to do this every year with them but do something different,” said Donna Thompson, director of WNAC. “He wants to offer some type of art project for their members. So Sam came up with this first one, it’s going to be a photography exhibit.”

The photography exhibit will be various selfies of members of the Cirrus House, ages 16-24, that will be digitally altered and manipulated. Each participant will be working with a professional photographer to learn digital manipulation of the photos to help make it unique to them. Thompson said that the photos will go far beyond a simple selfie.

“In the end, the exhibit is about putting a face to mental health. It will challenge our preconceived notions of what mental health is,” said Thompson. “The idea is that you won’t be able to really tell a difference and putting a spotlight on that.”

Those participating in the exhibit are not required to list their name next to the photo but Thompson said that everyone has not only been encouraged to title it and put their name with it but to tell their story as well.

“We hope to include a small narrative with the photo of each person if they so choose to do that. It would add yet another layer of getting their voices out there and give them the ability to talk about their experiences,” said Thompson.

The exhibit will be held in the new Bronson house at WNAC, which was one of two reasons they had decided to do this exhibit after opening it up.

“There is two parts to that. One is that when we opened the Bronson house last year, my vision for it was to really do some out-of-the-box things,” said Thompson. “Two, we wanted to partner with organizations in the community that we feel are underrepresented in the way of art and how we could get them engaged in that.”

Cirrus House Inc. focuses on providing quality of life and independence for those living with mental illness in the Nebraska Panhandles through opportunities for advocacy, housing, employment, education and a peer-supported community where members can find belonging and purpose.

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