COPING: Art to Process Illness, Decay and Loss

GCCA Opens its 2019 Exhibition Season with Inaugural Exhibit “COPING”

Future Kimono by Claudia Waruch. Silkscreen, 48 x 58 inches.

Greene County Council on the Arts (GCCA) opens its 2019 exhibition season with the inaugural show Coping: Art to Process Illness, Decay, and Loss from January 26 through April 13, 2019. Meet the artists at the Opening Reception on January 26, 2019 at 3-5pm at the GCCA Gallery, 398 Main Street, Catskill, NY.

Have you turned to your art supplies in a time of trauma? of loss? of feeling not yourself?  How does the process of creation help us to heal? to cope? How does the creative process change as we begin to think about the end of life and our legacy?

Coping: Art to Process Illness, Decay, and Loss explores these questions through the work of artists who are using the creative process to work through health crises, mental illness, and the loss of loved ones. There is renewed focus on the role of viewing art in improving health— the concept has long been used in the practice of art therapy, and it has recently been brought up in the news of Canadian doctors prescribing museum visits to patients. The therapeutic effect of creation can be seen on a broad scale in the popular activity of grown-up coloring books, which are touted for their calming and stress relieving impact. This exhibition seeks to explore the way artists in our community use their chosen media for catharsis.

Curated by Ashley Hopkins-Benton, Senior Historian/Curator of Social History at the New York State Museum, the inspiration for this exhibition came in part from a conversation with her uncle, Bruce Hopkins. Bruce has been exploring aging and end of life through sketches of decaying leaves, as well as using writing to stave off the effects of Alzheimer’s. The leaf studies resonated with her in particular—Ashley had worked on a project juxtaposing the rough, organic forms of decaying natural materials with the cold clinical lines of pharmaceuticals while processing her father’s cancer diagnosis. Bruce, currently a resident of Sioux City, Iowa, grew up in the Catskills, and is the brother of the late Barry Hopkins (a long-time GCCA board member). His writing was previously featured in the 2010 GCCA exhibition A Sense of Place.

The exhibition will highlight the works of Maureen Bagshaw, Shelley Davis, Ashley Garrett, Bruce Hopkins, Connie Frisbee Houde, Philip Howie, Ellen Levinson, Claudia McNulty, Ricardo Mulero, Kevin Nordstrom, Linda Psomas, Elaine Scull, Meryl Shapiro, Sheila Trautman, Claudia Waruch and Brian Wood. Ashley Hopkins-Benton included tow of her works as well. These poignant works of art include paintings, drawings, sculptures, journals, poetry and reproduced images.  For many of the artists in the show, art is a way to cope and better understand their own conditions and that of a loved one.

“Using artwork to understand the experience of illness and loss may be viewed as Outsider Art or not qualified for a museum setting,” states Marline A. Martin, Executive Director, Greene County Council on the Arts. “However, there are several notable artists who struggled with a variety of disorders and illnesses including Goya, van Gogh, Kahlo, O’Keefe, Basquiat, and Rothko, among others. The works that they created during their time of trauma served as the core process of healing through art and the releasing of their creative spirits. We hope that the show will inspire more people to explore the link between art and the mind”

The Coping: Art to Process Illness, Decay, and Loss exhibition will run from January 26 through April 13, 2019 with an opening reception on Saturday, January 26 from 3-5pm when several of the artists in the show will be present.  The GCCA Catskill Gallery hours are Monday – Friday 10-5pm and Saturday, 12-5pm. Public programming will include a film screening, artist talk and book signing, details to follow. For additional information, please contact Marline A. Martin, 518-943-3400 or email

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