Galleries Visual Arts

Becoming Whole Opens at BMCA

Hope in Light. Marty Sawyer, artist

The Black Mountain Center for the Arts (BMCA) opens its gallery doors this month for Becoming Whole: A Study of Art and Healing, presenting work from the counselors, clients and community associated with the Black Mountain Counseling Center. The show opens Friday, April 12, with an artist’s reception from 6–8 p.m. in the BMCA Upper Gallery, and runs through May 10.

“It is our hope that this show will reduce the social stigma that still surrounds counseling and mental illness,” says Ashley Starnes, head of administration and development at the Black Mountain Counseling Center. “We want to give our artists an opportunity to show work that has been beneficial to their healing process and to give artists who might not otherwise have the opportunity a chance to be heard.”

The benefits of viewing and creating art are much documented. It increases feelings of empathy and tolerance while alleviating symptoms of stress and depression. Art improves overall brain health and activates the same chemical centers of the brain as falling in love does.

“Art encompasses the human experience, and part of that experience is mental health and wellness,” says Starnes. “For some artists, creating is a way of understanding themselves. For others, it’s a way to be heard when they cannot accurately express themselves. Several of our counselors and clients are artists. Children in therapy are often encouraged to draw or paint or work with clay in order to understand and appropriately name their feelings, which allows them to navigate those emotions and bad situations in a healthy way.”

Black Mountain Counseling Center is a non-profit that provides counseling services, regardless of a client’s ability to pay. Clients receive services from licensed, experienced counselors, regardless of whether they are insured, uninsured or underinsured. The organization has been serving clients in east Buncombe County since 2007. “Every day we see evidence of the benefits of art,” says Gale Jackson, BMCA executive director. “From the glowing faces of guests after a concert, to the focused excitement of our clay studio participants, to the exuberance of students in our many classes, and from strangers who wander in off the streets to visit our gallery, art moves people and brings them together. We are so proud to partner with this important organization and vital element of the Black Mountain community.”

The Black Mountain Center for the Arts is located at 225 West State Street. The Upper Gallery is free to the public and open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 828.669.0930 or visit

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