Artwork powers healing

Photographer Rhet Lee Andrews poses inside ASU Gammage Tuesday. His photography focuses on travel and automobiles, which is part of an exhibit at Gammage Auditorium until December 15. (Damien Maloney/The State Press)
Published On:
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
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From black and white photographs of European racecars to acrylic paintings of Midwestern prairies, the newest exhibit at Gammage Auditorium portrays images from all over the world in a variety of mediums.

An exhibit featuring photography by Phoenix resident Rhet Lee Andrews and mixed media artwork by various artists opened Wednesday.

The artists come from People, Service, Action Art Awakenings, a program stemming from the non-profit PSA Behavioral Health Agency designed for people suffering mental and behavioral illnesses like depression. Students are taught how to use creative expression as a form of recovery.

Developed in 2001, Art Awakenings helps people recover from disorders such as depression and schizophrenia by expressing themselves through art.

Andrews will showcase 28 photos of classic automobiles and various European landscape snapshots.

“One of my loves is old cars,” Andrews said. “And I love to travel and when I do, I shoot lots of photos.”

Instead of using a digital camera like most photographers, Andrews chooses film and produces all his photos in a dark room. “I like to stick with the purity of film versus digital because there is kind of a historical look to it,” he said.

Andrews also uses warm-toned paper, which he prefers for the photos he took in Europe, to avoid harsh tones typically seen in black and white photos.

“The warmth really brings out of the old buildings, and you find a lot more of that in Europe and not in the U.S. because of the ages of the buildings,” Andrews said.

In addition to Andrews’ photos, 30 mixed media works by 23 Art Awakenings adult students will be shown.

“It gives them an outlet of creativity,” Art Awakenings director of marketing and community relations Karen Puthoff said. “I’ve heard artists say that their artwork is their education.”

Nanette Tamner began working with Art Awakenings while battling depression. She has two acrylic paintings in the exhibit.

“It gives you the time you need to heal without someone else,” Tamner said. “It is a very personal way of healing.”

One of her paintings, titled “Broken Bridge Road,” is a recreation of a pasture where she grew up in Illinois. “When you look at it you can imagine a lot of peacefulness and calmness,” she said. “I have a lot of good memories growing up associated with this place.”

Tamner, who works with everything from watercolors to clay, had no professional art training prior to Art Awakenings. She has already sold a number of paintings and is currently taking art classes at Phoenix College. Eventually, she hopes to earn a living through her art.

“I love art,” Tamner said. “And to watch it develop like that is pretty amazing.”

The exhibit will be on display Mondays from 1 to 4 p.m. or by appointment until Dec. 15.

Reach the reporter at wclark4@asu.edu.