An almost 95-year-old nonprofit organization in Detroit has been using the healing power of art to give our community's men new hope and health on their paths to recovery from addiction and homelessness. Read on to hear from Mariners Inn‘s Erica Rakowicz, Director of Fund Development and Marketing, and Karianne Spens-Hanna, Art Therapist, as they tell us more about the transformative power of the arts as a tool for overcoming obstacles and moving forward. One of the most powerful art exhibits in the City opens this Friday, July 19: “The Art of Transformation: A Celebration of Creativity in Recovery”.
1. Tell us about Mariners Inn's history and ties to the Detroit community.
Mariners Inn is a 24 hour residential refuge for adult men struggling with homelessness and substance abuse throughout Southeast Michigan. Offering a wide range of social service programs, Mariners Inn offers a compassionate, therapeutic environment to return men to a healthy, independent state of being. We help many men in the Detroit community regain their family relationships, livelihood, sense of dignity and purpose.
Nationally acclaimed, Mariners Inn was founded in 1925 by the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. This licensed, full-service treatment center provides integrated substance abuse treatment, shelter, and supportive services. One of Detroit’s premier treatment providers, Mariner's Inn holds the most prestigious three-year accreditation through the Commission for the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). We are also the only organization of our type in the region to have achieved application of Governance Standards, which identify Mariners Inn’s Board of Trustees as uniquely committed to providing competent and visionary leadership.
2. What effects have you seen on your clients since art became a part of your programs? Have any continued to pursue art?
The Mariners Inn Art therapy program was implemented after an internship partnership with Wayne State University years ago. Mariners Inn was fortunate enough to have an intern who brought the idea of art therapy in for a program, and eventually the organization applied for grants and we were able to expand the program over time.
The art therapy program at Mariners Inn was started to give the men in treatment a creative outlet while working on their recovery. The art making is an integral part of a holistic approach to treatment and healing. Many of the clients say art gives them a voice to their experiences and has helped them process their trauma. Making art helps to externalize emotions that words cannot always express, so creating work for this show encourages them to visually represent their story. The program also teaches them that art can be a healthy coping skill and provides opportunities to express themselves in new ways, as some of the men have never made art before. There have been many cases where the men continued to create art after leaving the program, setting up studios in their new residences, continuing with art therapy, and pursuing more artistic endeavors like exhibiting and selling their work.
3. How many years have you been doing the Art of Transformation show? What types of artwork do the clients produce?
Since 2013! The clients produce a wide range of artwork including paintings, drawings, sculptures and mixed media. Some of the work was created during open studio while others are from art therapy groups, so people who come to the show get to see some examples of what clients do on their own and what we do in sessions. I think the greatest highlight from the previous shows has been seeing the sense of accomplishment on the faces of those who participated in the exhibition. Artists tell their story by what they create and being able to display that in a gallery setting and share it with others is empowering. Art also connects people, so finding universality of experiences and the humanity through such a powerful medium is also a highlight.
4. How severe are the problems of homelessness and substance abuse in our Detroit communities? What common misconceptions do you encounter about the homeless and addicted population?
Mariners Inn has been in existence for over 90 years and there’s still a great >need for agencies like ours in the community, so homelessness and substance abuse are still very relevant situations today. We always strive to provide the best care and support to everyone who walks through our doors.
We also aim to break the stigma surrounding homelessness and substance abuse. I’ve heard people say that addicts “do it to themselves” and that individuals who are homeless should “pull themselves up by their boot straps” and those are pretty common misconceptions. Addiction is a disease and it doesn’t discriminate in any way, shape, or form. Everyone needs help at some point in their lives and the only thing that’s different person-to-person is what the help is for. We believe that Recovery is Real and that the individuals who come through our doors are brave and strong for seeking help.
5. What happens at the Art of Transformation Opening Reception and ongoing exhibit?
At the Opening Reception, the public will have a chance to meet some of the artists and see what we do at Mariners Inn. There will be a collaborative art piece at the event that the public can participate in, food and drinks, art for sale, an open mic, and people performing poetry and music. Everyone is welcome to come see the art at both DATL (Opening Reception, July 19) and YMCA (July 22-July 31) and celebrate these artists' hard work.
Extra Credit: If people are interested, how can they support your programs? If people are struggling and need treatment help, how can they access it at Mariners Inn?
Everyone can support Mariners Inn in some way! Start by finding us on social media (@marinersinn everywhere!) so you can keep up to date with us, and tell your friends and family about our mission! Monetary donations are welcome, as are in-kind donations of your everyday basics: socks, underwear, hygiene products, undershirts, etc. You can also set up a donation drive for us at your place of work, a club you’re a part of, or in your community! You’re also able to volunteer with us.
For those struggling and seeking treatment, we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Give our front desk a call at 313-962-9446 and our wonderful shift monitors will help direct you through the process. We’re here for you!
To find out exactly how you can get involved, reach out to Mariners Inn’s Development Department at firstname.lastname@example.org / 313-962-9446 x 230.
EVENT DETAILS: The opening reception for the Mariners Inn “Art of Transformation” Exhibit takes place from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on July 19th, 2019 at the Detroit Artists’ Test Lab, 14600 Mack Ave, and includes light refreshments, poetry, music, and art. For the rest of the months of July and August, the art will be displayed at the Boll Family YMCA, 1401 Broadway St. Both the Opening Reception and the exhibition are open to the public and there is no admission fee. Original works will be available for purchase, with proceeds benefiting the artists and Mariners Inn programming. This activity is Supported by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs Minigrant Program, administered by Region 10b – CultureSource.<
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