May 19, 2005

Photo Exhibit - Fine Line: Mental Health/Mental Illness

There is an excellent new exhibit at the Houston Center for Photography, titled "Fine Line: Mental Health/Mental Ilness" that sounds like the sort of high quality, educational exhibit that should travel around the country as part of educational and fund-raising effort. More details and stories below - and congratulations to Michael Nye for what sounds like a superb exhibit. For more information on how you can host this exhibit in your city - see "Micheal Nye's Technical Information".

Fine Line: Mental Health/Mental Illness, a documentary of voices, stories and portraits by Michael Nye, (San Antonio, TX) Main Gallery & Gallery Y


This interactive installation combines black-and-white portraits of people living with varying degrees of mental illness with audio narratives by the subjects. This humanistic exhibition gives a personal face and voice to mental illness and seeks to remove societal stigmas from those who suffer from these diseases. HCP has developed public programming for this exhibition with scholars in the humanities as well as Houston-area mental health professionals.

See Michael Nye's web site on "Fine Line: Mental Health/Mental Illness"

Michael Nye describes his exhibit, following:

"I don’t know where mental health ends and mental illness begins. This exhibit is about the Fine Line that moves through all of our lives as we weave our ways forward. It is about the recognition of our vulnerabilities and the fragility of control.

Mental illness is often about fear, fear of ourselves and fear of others.

Each of the fifty-five individuals in this exhibit tells a story. What is forgotten is lost. These narratives are about remembering, about time and light, taking apart and putting back together, losing and finding, and holding on for balance.

These stories are not intended to summarize or explain anyone’s life. We all carry a thousand stories. There are many ways a voice can turn.

Mental illness is too wide, deep and complex to define. The U.S. standard reference for psychiatry includes over 300 different manifestations of mental illnesses. It is painful to be labeled and misunderstood.

Scientific explanations speak of neurotransmitters, serotonin, receptors, medications and about the mysterious genes we each inherit, carry as gifts or burdens, and pass on to the next generation. We are the vessels in an intricate network of conveyances.

Mental illness touches the deepest parts of who we are; our identity, self worth, the inability to communicate, confusion and loss of control. It can happen for no apparent reason and at any time. Every person has a chance of becoming mentally ill.

The response to mental illness is wanting and waiting. It is ultimately about redemption, sadness, humility and dignity.

There is an urgency for action. Today, as a result of mental illnesses, hundreds of thousands of our citizens including the homeless and incarcerated do not have financial support for care and treatment.

Anyone who has been to these deep places knows something important and valuable. I thank all the individuals in this exhibit for their courage and for being our teachers, for enlarging and illuminating our lives.

I ask each person coming into the gallery to listen carefully. Throw away your old definitions of mental illness and start over. Listen to each story as if it could be you or your child or your friend or some stranger you will meet tomorrow.

Michael Nye

Full story on Exhibit, from Organica News

The Houston Chronicle comments on the exhibit:

"At first glance, the black-and-white photo of John makes the viewer smile. His off-kilter bow tie, his hair combed flush against his forehead, and his startled expression give him the air of a professor who again has misplaced his notes.

But slip on the headphones next to the photograph and the story becomes darker. John has paranoid schizophrenia, and a recording of his own quiet, steady voice tells his story.

"I could not make a friend," he says of his first few days at college, when he experienced his initial psychotic breakdown. "You feel like you're a waste; you see other people not want to be with you."

By the end of the five-minute narrative, it is difficult to remain dry-eyed."

Full Houston Chronicle Story

See Michael Nye's web site on "Fine Line: Mental Health/Mental Illness"


Hello, I have absolutely been delighted to see such a wonderful site.

This is one of the greatest opportunities for healing and awareness of mental illness.
A very Enlightening experience!

Only the truth erases the denial that we all are a touched by this is and/or a future candidate. If you aren't a sufferer , someone you love just might be.

Posted by: S.M. Razzo at December 18, 2005 06:59 PM

A great site. Am tring to gain similar interest here in East London. I help out at a volunteer centre and would like any advice on putting out an exibition.
Particularly how did you find clients willingness to take part in your own exihibition.

Thank you for your time
Jason Kelvin

Posted by: Mr Jason Kelvin at February 19, 2007 08:30 AM

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