On speaking to the hearts of those in the trenches
By Natalie Meeks
BBI Writer and Art Ministry Manager
GREENVILLE, South Carolina – “She is not my friend. And yet she is so close, so intimate; I can’t quite call her an enemy. But she is there, existing parallel to the self. She is not my friend, nor is she yours.” – Madara Lazdina
This is the Secret Double. This is depression.
What is the need?
Experts say that there are currently 70,000 patients in Latvia who are in dire need of depression treatment. Latvia laments the 10th highest suicide rate per capita in the world. The numbers continue to rise.
Most persons afflicted by depression bear their burden in silence, afraid of the stigma associated with mental illness. They walk restrained in the shadow of their Secret Double. How can we speak to the hearts of those in the trenches in such a way that they come out of hiding? Awareness and acceptance is a critical component to bringing hope and healing to a hurting people.
We must speak in their language; the universal language of the European soul. We speak with art.
How and why can artists help?
Artists in Europe, including Latvia, are highly regarded. When these culture-molders are open and transparent about a vulnerable issue, others find strength to do the same. Unmasking darkness with light and color serves to enlighten, empower and reduce shame.
Our upcoming Secret Double exhibition, running from September 27th to October 18th, constitutes the efforts of BBI’s Imago Dei Network in conjunction with a gathering of both professional and amateur artists, to speak hope and healing into the souls of those living with depression. This unique showcase will take place in the public square, addressing a public need, and most crucially, crafted in the public language.
What makes this exhibition unique?
Centrally located in the main vestibule of the Congress Hall (one of the main concert/exhibition halls in the Baltics), the three-week exhibition anticipates total traffic of 10,000 or more persons. During the event, visitors will enjoy the opportunity to attend lectures and therapy seminars, engage with artists and mental health professionals, hear the Word of God in testimony and enjoy original music performances. In partnership with the Latvian Board of Family Psychotherapists (as well as individual counselors and pastoral counselors), professional information and written resources will be made available to attendees.
Four of Latvia’s most prominent artists will be featured, including Aleksejs Naumovs, Kaspars Zarins, Dzemma Skulme and Vija Zarina. In addition to paintings, works of art in the mediums of music, sculpture, poetry, film, tapestry, photography and more will be exhibited; every one created in the pursuit of bringing healing to the soul of Latvia.
The invitation list is grand. Ranging from the current and former Presidents of Latvia to the Minister of Culture, the Mayor of Riga to the US Ambassador… a significant profile of VIP’s will be in attendance. The exhibition will be featured on two national television programs as well as secular and Christian radio. The potential connection with the public is profound.
The evening following opening of the exhibition, BBI president Chuck Kelley (who will also be submitting an original work of art for the exhibition) will share his faith, his journey with pain, his battle with darkness and depression and his ultimate hope in the Lord Jesus. He will also play piano.
What does the future hold?
Artists from Latvia, Estonia, the USA and Kazakhstan are participating in the Secret Double exhibition. Our intent is to bring these works on the road to other major venues in Latvia, Estonia and the USA. We have already received an invitation to bring the Secret Double exhibition to Oregon State University.
Art is more than just the language of Europe. It is the Universal language. Just as man worldwide is imprinted with the Imago Dei, so we are made to speak the language of the soul… through creation and art.