Sunday, January 25, 2009

Artist fights stigma of schizophrenia

From Times-Union:

In June 2006, Amber Christian Osterhout learned that her brother, Josh,
had been reported missing in Italy. The professor who called from Rome,
where Josh had been studying during his last semester of college, had
not seen him in class for a week.

"I couldn't help but feel like this was a dream, like this phone
call was meant for someone else," said Osterhout, an art director at
Shannon-Rose Design in Saratoga Springs. "My family and I spent days
trying to piece together this nightmare."

Approximately one week
later, Josh called. He was being chased, he told his sister, describing
days running through brush, eluding capture in a thriller-like tale
complete with plots and bombs. He hadn't called, he said, because he
didn't know anything was wrong....

Last month, Osterhout teamed up with National Alliance on Mental
Illness — New York State (NAMI-NYS) to unveil the educational art
exhibit "Gaining Insight: An Examination of the Relationship Between
Schizophrenia and Stigma."

"Amber's passion and concern show
through her work. Her experience is universal with other family
members," said Trix Niernberger, executive director of NAMI-NYS.
"Although Josh is one person, he represents 2.4 million American adults
living with schizophrenia."

The exhibit — which features six
paintings, three life-sized posters and audio — can be viewed at Osterhout hopes to present it in
galleries and as the core of educational programs delivered in schools.
She will donate 80 percent of print-sale proceeds to mental health

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