South Carolina Department of Mental Health

The Columbia Star, 5/16/08
Art as Therapy
Part I: the power of artistic expression to heal the emotions
By Anita Baker

Lee Hepp

Case with God by Lee Hepp

South Carolina's Art of Recovery project recognizes the talent of people who live with mental illnesses and the role that creative outlets, like art, can play in the recovery process.

Individuals who are treated in the clinics and institutions of our state are invited to submit their work with the opportunity for the sale of their work.

Matt Van Buren epitomizes the heart of the Art of Recovery. He purposefully wants to use his creative skills to fight against the stigma in our society concerning mental illness. He is a strong believer that recovery is possible and the clients of our mental health system need to speak out. He describes himself as a "street artist." His piece, "Lady Di," is an example of jazz art which is as in music less technical, fun, mixed media and somewhat abstract.

Lee Hepp has been chosen to be in the traveling exhibit for the second year. Her piece, "Case with God," is an acrylic on canvas abstract. She is a freelance artist and has worked in 10 mediums. For Hepp, creating the artwork is therapeutic. She feels it is necessary to her mental and emotional well being. She feels her work helps her to maintain a positive attitude. She wants the public to recognize the mental wellness of the artist in their ability to create something of significance.

Robert Stanley

Evening Bridge by Robert Stanley

Robert E. Stanley has painted a view of the Gervais Street bridge leading to the Columbia skyline. His intent is to recreate his vision of the flowers in the forefront of the painting with the rest of the view as a backdrop. He is a self-taught artist and finds that expressing his unique envisioning of an object or scene is his challenge while serving a therapeutic purpose in his life.

The artwork of these and other artists representing the mental health system will be on display at the Columbia Museum of Art until June 15.

If you are interesting in purchasing a piece of artwork from the gallery, please call (803) 898-8582. You can also see a slide show of the artwork on the South Carolina Department of Mental Health's website at

Matt Van Buren

Lady Di by Matt Van Buren

Facts:Mental disorders are common in the U.S. An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older or one in four adults or 57.7 million people suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. About 6 percent, or 1 in 17, suffer from a serious mental illness. In the U.S., mental disorders are diagnosed based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSMIV).