Art+as+portal+to+mind+of+mental+illness+2008

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Am J Psychiatry 165:7, July 2008 819 Images in Psychiatry ajp.psychiatryonline.org Art as a Portal Into the Minds of Those With Mental Illness W hether mental illness spurs creativity has long been de- bated. Regardless of whether it does or not, art is a physical repre- sentation of thoughts and emotions that are otherwise not easily conveyed by other means, and thus it is a potential portal into the minds of mentally ill people (1). The American Visionary Art Mu- seum (http://www.avam.org) is not a typical art museum. Lo- cated in Federal Hill near the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, the mu- seum contains works by self-taught artists, each with a story to tell through his or her creations. A requirement for exhibition is that the artist has not had formal training. Many of these artists have mental illnesses that have required prolonged institutional care at some point in their lives. Each artist has a small biography printed on the wall next to the featured productions to allow viewers a glimpse into the back-
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