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painting of a purple tree with books in branchesExpressive Recovery

The Brushes with Life Arts Program is a creative recovery therapy group for people in treatment at the UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health; members of Club Nova, a local clubhouse for persons with mental illness; and other select community programs in the Chapel Hill area.

Through the creation of visual art, poetry, film, and music, participants find healing and move toward recovery. By connecting with the larger community around their work, they promote a broader understanding of the human side of mental illness.

Artists select a wide range of media to convey their ideas and feelings. They further their talents by participating in program-sponsored art classes, and have the opportunity to share their work in the Brushes with Life Gallery located at the NC Neurosciences Hospital.

Brushes with Life Group Classes

In-person or Virtual
This group provides visual and expressive arts activities where participants can select from a wide range of mediums to express their thoughts and feelings. All skill levels are encouraged.

For details on when the class meets and how to signup, please visit our Current Recovery Programs page.

Brushes with Life Art Gallery

The Brushes with Life Art Gallery was created to give local adults living with mental illnesses an opportunity to display and sell their artwork, as well as help lessen the stigma associated with mental illness by showing that those living with a mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder can be talented, creative and productive.

Our artists work with many different media including photography, acrylics, watercolors, yarn, paper, ceramics, fabric arts, poetry, jewelry and oil paints. Each time a new show is hung, there is an opening exhibition for artists, families, staff and friends to enjoy the new work and delight in the beauty. It is also an opportunity for musicians, dancers, and videographers to show off their work.

The gallery has been featured at many local and state wide venues including the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Raleigh Durham Airport, Panzanella, the FRANK gallery, UNC Charlotte, the Global FedEx building on UNC’s campus, the Carrboro library as well as several area churches. In 2005, the gallery won the Lilly Reintegration Award for Mental Health Advocacy.

The Gallery was temporarily closed in 2018 due to hospital renovations and the Covid-19 pandemic. We are working on reviving the Gallery and hope to have details on a new show soon.

Support Mental Health Recovery

Your donations support the creative alternative recovery programs. These programs include group therapies such as Horticultural Therapy, Brushes with Life, and Wellness Wednesday. As well as community programs such as the CORA Food Pantry, Wellness on Wheels Mobile Clinic and Tiny Home Village.