As part of Mental Health Month in May, Asheville visual artist Douglas Lail will present “Hello My Name Is…”, a collection of portraits and personal recovery stories of people recovering from alcohol, drugs, mental health and other life challenges. The exhibit, which is sponsored by the Asheville Area Arts Council (AAAC), will take place the month of May in the upstairs gallery of the Ashe County Public Library.
A professional artist since 2007, Lail began concentrating on portraits in 2014. The idea to do an exhibit on people in recovery grew out of Lail’s own recovery experience and his desire to do something socially relevant with his artwork.
“I’ve been in recovery since 2013,” Lail said. “I’d been in recovery about a year and was experiencing the sting of negative social stigma associated with addiction and I realized I had found the subject matter for my artwork. This project offers a look at the faces of people that face their greatest fears and reunite with the world.”
Lail said the HMNI project as a community outreach program to break through the social stigma of addiction by focusing on the positive impact of recovery, in the lives of individuals, their families and the community. He created the portraits in the HMNI project using basic white charcoal on black paper. He said he chose this medium to align the art with the overall concept of the project – emerging from the darkness of addiction into the light of recovery.
“My mission with this project is to paint the light that I see in the mirror as well as the light I see in the people in recovery around me,” Lail said.
In 2016, Lail intends to make the project a traveling exhibit. Those interested in following his efforts may contact Lail through his website, HMNI.org , or follow the project’s progress on Facebook at HelloMyNameIsProject or Twitter@HMNI_Project.