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Getting in Touch With Inner Self Via Artwork

July 15, 1993

This Saturday, "Creative Discoveries," the annual art show at Camarillo State Hospital, kicks off with an exhibition of more than 700 artworks by participants in various mental health programs countywide. Over the past few years, the shows have drawn increasingly broad interest.

Jack Cheney, the art therapist who has headed up the Art Therapy/Fine Arts Discovery Program at Camarillo State Hospital for the past six years, received the Amgen Teacher of Excellence award for 1993. In the program, participants are encouraged to express themselves through two- and three-dimensional art-making, as well as music and performance.

"Through art we're able to access elements of our inner personal struggle that are otherwise below the surface in the subconscious," Cheney said. Tapping into our subconscious is a practice not easily accomplished with the spoken word, Cheney said.

"We're pretty adept at hiding behind our words, but when we draw and create images, we're not adept of filtering," Cheney said.

The result: breakthrough.

"The inner world becomes visible and accessible and therefore treatable and open to celebration," he said. "It doesn't just reveal aspects of disability, but can uncover strengths and resilience that may otherwise be hidden below the surface."

"Creative Discoveries '93" is a public-invited forum for artists in Cheney's program, as well as those served by S.H.A.R.E. (Self-Help Advocacy Resource Center), Tri-Counties Regional Center, Ventura County Department of Mental Health and the Turning Point Foundation.

Work in various media, including painting, ceramics, drawings and sculptures, are on display, and the artworks are for sale. The show will continue through July 25. The hospital is located at 1878 Lewis Road in Camarillo. For more information, call 484-3661.

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