Using Paint to Heal

This evening as I was scrolling through Twitter this article caught my attention. The article is about a mother who had previously lost her daughter to a heroin overdose in 2014. To deal with this tragic loss, Anne Marie (the mother) is creating paintings of people that have passed away from drug addiction, including her daughter. I found it very interesting that article is based out of New Hampshire, concerning the on-going heroin epidemic. It’s unfortunate that New Hampshire is one of the states with the highest rates of opioid overdose in the country. I believe it’s a good thing that authorities have been cracking down on dealers who are linked to overdose deaths.

Anne Marie created a non-profit organization called the Angels of Addiction about a year after her daughter’s death. Her mission is to raise awareness of heroin addiction through her portrait oil paintings.

Oil paintings by Anne Marie Zanfagna via Facebook/Angels of Addiction

Her ultimate goal is that she plans to create a traveling art show which she plans to bring to the New Hampshire State House and the US Capitol Building. Currently, Anne Marie has created about 90 paintings and the amazing thing is, she doesn’t charge money for the portraits.

When Anne Marie was painting the portrait of her daughter to help heal she described the experience as if her daughter was spending time with her while she painted. Anne Marie’s goal is to one day fund an art therapy scholarship in her daughter’s name for a student who plans to work in addiction services. According to research, “A 2014 study found that 36.8% of US addiction treatment programs offered some form of art therapy.” I am impressed with this statistic and I am glad that art therapy is offered in treatment centers because there are many benefits to art therapy. Some of the benefits include, reduction of shame and denial, increase in motivation and communication and art therapy is a way to express yourself in a way that you cannot do verbally.

Anne Marie uses bright, fun colors to create her portraits because she wants to shatter the stigma and stereotype of people who struggle with drug addiction as bad people. I feel like this is also a true stereotype, it’s is sad to me because people are so quick to assume what a person is like based strictly on what their flaws are. I believe this article is interesting because it not only reflects what I’m interested in (art therapy) but it also demonstrates an on-going epidemic in New Hampshire (where my college is located). I don’t think some people realize how dangerous and addictive opioids can be and it’s beneficial to raise awareness to these issues to help educate others.

3 thoughts on “Using Paint to Heal

  1. Wow– amazing story that I hadn’t seen before, and a perfect topic for you to reflect on in terms of art and healing. Very moving, and makes me realize the role that art could play in funding advocacy as well, since the ability to move people emotionally seems so crucial to getting support for new policies and programs. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. This is a truly remarkable story. Like most NH residents, I have personally been affected by this terrible epidemic. To see someone who has suffered an unthinkable loss confront the world that took away their loved one so directly is incredible. The quote, “she wants to shatter the stigma and stereotype of people who struggle with drug addiction as bad people,” speaks to how Anna Marie wants to help those like herself and her daughter, in hopes that they will not have to suffer a terrible loss. Art therapy is an amazing tool for many people when it comes to healing themselves.

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