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Art on the Brain

Raised toward our $5,000 Goal
64 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on April 30, at 11:59 PM EDT
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Art on the Brain

Help us strengthen and expand Art on the Brain, a nationally noted suite of programs at the Wexner Center for the Arts for participants recovering from brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other kinds of trauma. Through art interpretation and group discussion, this innovative initiative fosters healing, resilience, and social re-integration. It engages “hidden” and often underserved demographics, with iterations for people in the post-acute stages of traumatic brain injury; military veterans with PTSD; and women recently released from prison. Through weekly sessions over two months at the Wexner Center, Art on the Brain allows participants to express themselves and challenge their minds as they respond to and discuss contemporary visual art, as well as performing arts. By helping them reintegrate and find a positive way forward—buoyed by others who have undergone similar traumas—the program benefits not only the participants, but also their families, caregivers, and the community at large.

Art on the Brain was launched in 2013 by the Wex’s Tracie McCambridge in consultation with the Wexner Medical Center and other local hospitals, and has expanded ever since with the support of additional community partners. The newest iteration—for post-incarcerated women—is especially timely given the opioid and heroin epidemic affecting the state (and affecting many of the women), and given the rising number of women in prison. To identify participants, the Wex will work with an alumni group from the Ohio Reformatory for Women’s Tapestry therapeutic community, which focuses on addiction and preventing recidivism.

In Art on the Brain, participants tend to begin by talking about the art, but often end up talking about themselves. One participant opened up to his mother about his addiction for the first time following a discussion about an abstract art piece that he thought spoke to the artist’s inner struggle. Responses to the program have been overwhelmingly positive. A Navy veteran dealing with anxiety and depression said it allowed him “to do something constructive with people and not be in a clinical setting,” while another noted that people felt comfortable expressing themselves “without judgment.”

The initiative supports several pillars of President Drake’s Time and Change strategic plan, while also advancing the University’s Discovery Themes of Chronic Brain Injury and Humanities and the Arts. Funds raised through this campaign will help provide honoraria for co-facilitators, artists, and on-site social workers, as well as transportation, food, childcare, and supplies.

We hope you will consider supporting Art on the Brain—a new way of fully engaging the arts as a tool for fostering resilience and reintegration.

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Approximately 5.3 million Americans are currently living with traumatic brain injury (TBI), according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Art on the Brain challenges minds and enhances participants’ quality of life following TBI.



The number of women in prison in Ohio increased 10-fold between 1974 and 2014. A new iteration of Art on the Brain will seek to create a sense of community, provide a positive outlet, and foster reintegration for the growing demographic of post-incarcerated women.



An estimated 24.4 million Americans—8% of the population—have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at any given time. One iteration of Art on the Brain is specifically for military veterans, many of whom are living with PTSD. “For me, it’s about being around people I am comfortable with, and expanding my level of community,” noted one participant.



Drug/opioid overdose rate in Ohio was 35.9 per 100,000 in 2016 (compared to 19.1 per 100K in the U.S.), a nine-fold growth since 1999. Our new iteration of Art on the Brain for post-incarcerated women—many of whom have suffered from addictions—seeks to offer a new community, encourage self-expression, and even, perhaps, to aid in helping them avoid behaviors that led to imprisonment.



Ohio Prisons Director Gary Mohr says that more than 55% of incarcerated women in the state are imprisoned for drug offenses. The Wex program offers a safe and welcoming place for women, after they’re released, to reflect and discuss their ideas about art (and life) with women who often share and can empathize with their experiences.



70% of adults in the U.S. have experienced some type of physical or emotional trauma in their lives. The entire Art on the Brain suite fosters resilience, creative thinking, and a positive outlet for this “hidden” demographic.



Traumatic brain injuries are responsible for 282,000 hospitalizations (and 2.5 million emergency room) visits in the U.S. each year. After people have moved out of the acute stages of TBI, Art on the Brain can help them reintegrate, socialize, express themselves, stretch their minds, and learn with others.

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