2006 Elizabeth O'Neill Verner
Governor's Awards for the Arts

To recognize outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina, The Arts Commission annually presents the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Awards, the highest honor the state gives in the arts. These awards encourage South Carolina arts organizations, patrons, artists, the business community, and government to maximize their roles as innovators, supporters and advocates of the arts.

Category: Government

Collage of Program Art-"This project uses a universal medium to convey to the viewer not only the perspective of the artist, but also that recovery is real and attainable. It crosses the boundaries of stigma to portray mental illness with a human face." * Edward W. Mullins Jr., Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP.The South Carolina Department of Mental Health works to support the recovery of people with mental illnesses. Helping the department meet this challenge, "Art of Recovery" is a program that gives individuals living with a mental illness an opportunity to exhibit and sell their works of art. Staff volunteers established the program to help eradicate the stigma often associated with mental illness. "The program has helped individuals to realize their genuine purpose by expressing themselves through a creative process that fosters their unique ability to see the world a little bit differently," said one Art of Recovery artist.

The program is open to all individuals who receive care from the SCDMH and has assisted more than 350 artists from around the state. A gallery of artwork, which rotates biannually, is displayed at the department's central administration building in downtown Columbia. The Art of Recovery collection has also been displayed at the Columbia Museum of Art, the Richland County Public Library and at the Cultural Action Council's annual Cross Cultural Conference in Myrtle Beach. The program has received grants from the Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington Counties and the Aurora Foundation.

About Elizabeth O'Neill Verner

Elizabeth O'Neill Verner achieved an international reputation for her etchings and pastels, many of which capture the spirit of the Carolina Low Country. She was a teacher, writer and historian. Throughout her 96 years, Mrs. Verner traveled extensively through Europe and the Orient. Drawings of Carolina residences, churches, and street-life portraits are Verner trademarks recognized throughout the world for their artistic merit and unique color hues. Mrs. Verner's studio, located on Tradd Street in Charleston, is open to visitors as a living memorial to this outstanding South Carolinian.