An enthusiastic crowd filled the halls of the Telfair’s Jepson Center for the Arts on Sunday, Dec. 6. The crowd was there for the opening of the 15th annual “I Have Marks to Make” exhibit, which continues until Jan. 4.
“I Have Marks to Make” is geared towards demonstrating the therapeutic and rehabilitative powers of art. The artwork was submitted through a number of organizations within the community, including Memorial Health Rehabilitation Institute, Department of Veterans, Savannah Speech and Hearing Center, City of Savannah Therapeutics Program, and many others.
Work from nearly 100 artists of all ages who have a disability or are recovering from an illness or injury was displayed. The artists are encouraged to submit art, not only in the visual form, but also in the written form.
The event also showcased a talk by one of the artists, Kenneth Martin, and poetry readings featuring written works that were submitted. The poems featured were “The Battle Is Yours,” “Darkest Hour,” and “Only You” by Shawana Bulloch, “Living the Dream” and “Sister” by Robert E. Cohen, and “The Sixteenth day of February, 1990” by Katharine Hartwig Dahl.
One artist, Charles “Chucky” Wright, had four pieces of art displayed in the exhibition. Wright had this to say about how he got involved with the event:
“In 2008, I had a heart attack, and since then, I have had nine other heart attacks or strokes,” he said. “My doctor at St. Joseph’s/Candler suggested helping to heal my mind by putting my hand to paper.”
Currently, Wright is part of a peer group at the hospital to aid other stroke victims.
“I draw the pictures, and they paint them,” he said. Wright had several drawings in the exhibition including “Pop Icon,” “Traditional Blues,” and “First Family.”
Joe Harper, with the Savannah Speech and Hearing Center, had his work appearing in the exhibition for the first time, this year. He created a piece entitled “Humor.”
“Doing the picture absolutely helped me,” he said. With what the Telfair is showcasing through this exhibition, “it certainly is a lot to look at,” he commented.
Petra Foxworth, also with the Savannah Speech and Hearing Center, was another artist that had her work appearing in the exhibition for the first time.
She commented on her collage, “Wilde Horses”:
“I didn’t know that I was an artist. We made collages at the Speech and Hearing Center. The woman who works there called me one day and told me that my collage would be displayed. I was stunned,” she said.
Kenneth Martin, a returning artist to the exhibition for three years, had four pieces displayed this year, including a landscape and a bronze sculpture.
Martin describes his work as “impressionistic, realistic, and narrative.” He explained his involvement with the therapeutic healing aspects of art:
“I’ve always been artistic, but I only thought of it as a mere pastime. During the process of raising five adult children and getting a job after the accident, and over time, I began to appreciate, understand, and honor the gift I had,” he said.
“But at first, I didn’t approach it as a meaningful healing method; it was like, okay what is this, but the more people began to appreciate what I was doing; I began to see, okay, maybe there is something to this. Now I can hone it, appreciate it, and embrace it. I just didn’t realize what I had,” he said.
Being a part of the “I Have Marks to Make” exhibition with the Telfair Museum of Art “gives exposure to the artists, and gives the artists an outlet.” Martin explained, “It gives the community an opportunity to express their artwork. I really, really appreciate the opportunity. It’s a great opportunity.”
“I Have Marks to Make” is one of the Telfair Museum of Art’s ways of providing diverse programs and opportunities that gets the community involved.
The Telfair’s senior curator of education, Harry DeLorme, says, “Art–making offers us a unique opportunity for self expression which can aid the process of healing, or simply coping with the challenges we face in life.”
He explains, “The ‘Marks’ exhibition and its opening program are more than a means of putting a human face on disability. This project reminds viewers that all of us — whether we are professional artists or individuals making their first expressive marks — have creative potential, no matter our limitations.”