Art Exhibit Opening & Reception: Community on a Shelf: Exploring the Human Side of Mental Illness by VersAnnette Blackman

2:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Main Library
First Floor - Community Engagement Space

Event Details

“I make art because I have to. It is a sacred spiritual practice. A safe space where I can breathe because I know I belong in it.”—Verse

Join us for an opening reception for Community on a Shelf: Exploring the Human Side of Mental Illness on display in the Main Library Lobby Community Engagement Space. Meet the artist and celebrate the creative works of VersAnnette Blackman LMT. As an artist, writer, advocate, and healing arts practitioner, she has 10+ years experience as a trauma informed facilitator in various settings including domestic violence shelters and Chicago high schools. The exhibit will be on display through November.

VersAnnette is the founder of (H.E.M) an acronym for Heal, Empower, Motivate. This non-profit's mission is to use art and creative writing to help survivors heal and find their voices. In 2015 VersAnnette was awarded the Peggy A. Montes Unsung Heroine Award by the Cook County Commission on Women's Issues. She is the author of Butterfly Spirit: Poems of Transparency, Transformation & Truth.

Artist statement

My paintings emerge from a deeply held and regarded intuitive head space. To create out of nothing, no plans, scheme, or intent I step up to the canvas ready to unleash whatever lies inside me waiting to be expressed. I move while I work, I sing, I stretch, I cry, I dance, I do whatever I feel.

All in all, my work is meant to communicate what words cannot. I strive to make it less about what the eye sees and more about what the soul feels. My curious soul is what guides me to not try and hide behind a perfectly polished picture. The energy that translates from my work is the raw emotion that cannot be denied or even fully explained. My intent is to create art from a process that is transparent; meaning I cannot take full credit for what the experience. I’m aware that I am a Co-creator with Source. Often the painting reveals to me as much about myself as it does to the consumer about his or herself. We are both bearing witness.

I work primarily with Golden Acrylic paints and gel mediums, markers and various tools for mark making, foam brushes and fingers. I love to work on big huge stretched canvases for full freedom. The bigger the canvas, the more I can stretch and challenge myself; this is a metaphor for my life. I tend to lean towards bright vibrant hues, but I have a deep love for mixing color and experimenting with new hues. Another metaphor for the way I prefer to live.

I make art because I have to. It is a sacred spiritual practice. A safe space where I can breathe because I know I belong in it. It is a form of worship, one of the primary ways I communicate with my God. It is one of the only places I feel embraced, free, alive and completely accepted. It is a healing, a bearing witness to all that I’ve overcome and all that I have yet to experience. My painting process resembles what I want most for my life: To be seen, to be healed and heard, to be raw and unapologetic, to be bold, soulful, energetic, and take risks.

Learn more about VersAnnette and her work »


Event Type(s): Arts & Culture, Civic Learning, Health & Wellness
Age Group(s): Adults, High School, Older Adults
Kathleen Spale
(708) 383-8200 ext. 0