April 3, 2023

New art exhibit hopes to start more community conversations around mental health

Unfinished Portrait by Will Lawrance - Indianapolis Art Center

Unfinished Portrait by Will Lawrance

Indianapolis Art Center

Editor's note: If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988, or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

A new exhibit at the Indianapolis Art Center hopes to open more discussion surrounding mental health and the benefits of creative wellness.

A collection of nearly 100 creations tells the story of identical twins and nationally recognized artists, Joe and Will Lawrance.

Joe graduated from The Cooper Union Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture in 2010, and Will graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2008. During their college years, both suffered from anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.

The twins’ struggles led to both taking their own lives.  Will was 26 when he died in 2011.  Joe’s death came six years later at the age of 32.

Their parents Jan and Mark Lawrance have found healing and continued connections to their sons through their artwork.

Mark Lawrance said despite the tragedy, his sons’ artwork endures and serves as an opening for dialogue about mental health.

“I think that communication through art, or having a discussion like this, is so important. And, you know, I think there's a lot of good work going on to reduce the stigma of mental health and, you know, depression and other things. And we hope this might help further that effort,” Lawrance said.

Mark Williams, president of the Indianapolis Art Center, said the collection is unique.

“The collection encompasses works that were created many years ago to works that are, you know, relatively unfinished. And that's also part of the story. You know, where that story left off and where we as a community pick up the conversation from there,” Williams said.

JoeWill: BetterTogether runs from April 3 to May 28 at the Indianapolis Art Center.

There will be a free public opening reception on April 6, from 5 to 8 p.m. The exhibition is open for viewing for free during the Art Center’s regular hours, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.

Williams said the center plans to continue working to reduce the stigma by talking about mental health and substance abuse through this exhibit and other initiatives.

The exhibition kicks off a community-wide discussion about mental health and the benefits of creative wellness.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The Indianapolis Art Center said for the first time, a wellness village will be part of the Broad Ripple Art Fair, May 20-21. It will feature resources related to creative wellness, as well as physical, mental, emotional, financial, social, intellectual, spiritual, and environmental health.

Contact WFYI Morning Edition newscaster and reporter Taylor Bennett at tbennett@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @TaylorB2213.

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