Program partnership brings art, recovery, and connections to the library

Jayme photographs her painting “Flora + Fauna” in the Central Library gallery. Photo by Robert Wade

Art can serve as an outlet, an inspiration, and a source of strength – as demonstrated by the work in the Winter Visions exhibition from Path with Art, on display in the Level 8 gallery at the Central Library.

Path with Art is a Seattle-based nonprofit that offers free classes, materials, and showcases for people recovering from trauma. The program partners with The Seattle Public Library thanks in part to donor support for the Foundation.

“This partnership is important as it pairs the essential work and network of The Seattle Public Library with the expertise of Path with Art,” said Jenny Ku, public engagement program manager for the library. “The program supports unique opportunities for individuals impacted by trauma to access artistic expression, develop new skills, form new connections, build community, and find belonging.”

The Winter Visions exhibition features work from several recent Path with Art classes, from abstract drawing to ceramics to photography. Patricia participated in the Lines on a Spine: Poems by the Book class, which was held at the Central Library.

“It’s a welcoming community. It’s respectful,” Patricia said of the library as a host space. “Safety with trauma is very important.”

Patricia connected with Path with Art during the pandemic. She has since become an avid photographer, using a camera provided by the program.

The Lines on a Spine class was a chance to exercise a different artistic muscle. Patricia and her fellow students toured the Central Library’s famous book spiral, drawing inspiration from different titles to create poems. Patricia’s work featured in the exhibition, “Gone,” reflects on her mother.

“When you utilize art, you think about other things,” she said of the value of the program for someone recovering from traumatic experiences. “It shifts the mind scape, so you can focus on other trajectories.”

Lindsey, another artist featured in the exhibit, shared similar sentiments. She got involved in Path with Art through a recovery organization that also helps with substance abuse. She’s now deeply involved in the organization and has started teaching classes herself.

“I didn’t realize I was so good at it,” she said. Her piece in the gallery displays Path with Art’s name with hand-drawn and stencil art, and was created as a Christmas present for the program staff to show her appreciation. “I really feel like a star some days.”

Lindsey also noted how special it felt to have her work featured in the Central Library. She has lived nearby for many years and visited often, but never knew about the gallery space or the chance to showcase local artists like herself.

In addition to the current exhibit, the Central Library also hosted the Voices of Belonging showcase for Path with Art’s performance classes last summer.

“It’s important for Path with Art to partner with the library because our participants artists can be connected to other accessible programs and services, and The Seattle Public Library provides Path with Art with public spaces for our community to create meaningful and engaging experiences,” said Wynne Pei, Path with Art arts manager. “We’re excited to join with the library in serving the public with many civic and artistic opportunities while expanding Path with Art’s ability to connect more broadly.”

You can visit the Winter Visions exhibition on Level 8 of the Central Library through March 17. Read more and see examples from the exhibit on SPL’s Shelf Talk Blog.