Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Eckleburg Interviews Artist and Spectrum ArtWorks Peer Support Specialist Christi Furnas

Artist Christi Furnas was recently interviewed by The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, an online and print literary and arts journal housed at The Johns Hopkins University. This interview provides background on Christi's artistic work as well as her position as a Peer Support Specialist at Spectrum ArtWorks.

 Here is a snippet from the interview. She describes her role at Spectrum ArtWorks:

In March 2011, I was hired on as staff. I support 12 people who are working to survive as professional artists. I help them apply for shows, and keep up portfolios along with other things. There is great talent in the group and I have learned a lot. Another aspect of my job is to help facilitate open studio time. This is when any member of the Lighthouse can utilize the studio and art supplies. This is not art therapy although it is an excellent time for people to be creative in a comfortable setting. 
I have a unique roll because I get to support peeps as an equal. I don’t see it happen where I work, but in a great number of situations people with mental illness are patronized or not listened to. It’s difficult to value yourself when no one else seems to value who you are or what you say. I have the opportunity through art making to connect with people. It is important to hear stories from people and be able to share experiences. The other day I compared auditory hallucination stories with an artist in the program. Then I discussed which colors to use in their painting. I feel extremely fortunate to work in the arts at a place I can be open about my illness.
Please take some time to read it here. The interview is thoughtful and insightful.

On another note: Christi recently won the People's Choice Award at the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA) Fall Fine Arts Show. What an achievement! You can find more info on NEMAA and their annual exhibition here.

James and Christi in the studio