In 2015, Doris Thurber’s only child, Maya, died of a heroin/fentanyl overdose. The unleashed emotions and energy created in the wake of Maya’s death led Doris to pour herself and her feelings into large collages, pieced together from photos, writings, and other Maya-related memorabilia. This year-long process supported Doris’s healing from her daughter’s death and from the ongoing family trauma induced by drug abuse. This helped lead her to the realization that creativity might be used not only as a tool for healing from grief, but also from other types of trauma.
With this in mind, Doris and other Frankfort artists devised an arts-based program, Hands Healing HeArts, for women in the process of recovering from drug addiction. The program is embedded in Franklin County Drug Court as a mandated component for eligible participants.
In weekly sessions, Thurber and other local artists guide participants through writing exercises, visual art projects, theater exercises, and a variety of other artistic processes designed to help give expression to inner feelings and struggles. In 2018, HHH Arts launched its youth and family program in partnership with local schools and social service organizations.
The multimedia exhibit Voices of Recovery features life-sized self-portrait sculptures created by Drug Court participants and an accompanying soundtrack of interview excerpts and violin music created by Joanna Hay. Hay’s documentary film The Art of Recovery tells the story of the project’s first year. These and other works reach audiences as only the arts can do, telling the story of addiction and inspiring empathy and action.