From addicts to artists
By Erika Wurst email@example.com August 30, 2011 9:04PM
Updated: May 9, 2012 9:44AM
ST. CHARLES TWP. — Several months ago, the Kane County Drug Court held an art contest for its 187 defendants.
Former addicts were invited to put their thoughts and visions down on paper, on canvas or in clay.
“A lot of these people are extremely creative,” said Carrie Thomas, coordinator of Kane County’s Drug Rehabilitation Court. “Most of them have never had this kind of acknowledgement for doing something positive.”
Thomas said that participation in the contest was overwhelming — and inspiring enough to share their creations with the public.
The first-ever Kane County Drug Court Art Show and Written Word Extravaganza will take place from 3:30 to 7 p.m. Sept. 7 in the Juror Lounge at the Kane County Judicial Center, 37W777 Route 38, St. Charles.
“This lets the community see their efforts and is a way to build self-esteem,” Thomas said. “We wanted to make it a more formal event and really give the defendants and their creations the respect they deserve.”
More than 60 written entries already have been submitted, Thomas said. Several defendants have been working on multiple pieces of art to show.
“There are several entries that make almost everyone cry,” Thomas said.
She said that through the defendants’ art, the public can see how addiction has affected the lives of the creator and everyone around them.
“It’s very touching, and a very hard process,” Thomas said.
The drug court program is more about rehabilitation than it is about punishment. Thomas said the defendants are met with a holistic approach to recovery rather than a punitive one.
Through the 30-month program process, many former addicts are afforded the opportunity to get in touch with passions from their past.
“There is one single mother who has five children, and now that she is clean and sober, she has realized that she has this incredible artistic ability,” Thomas said. “Her artwork is amazing, and she said sketching reduces her stress.”
From candle holders to limericks, Thomas said that the submissions vary.
“Some submissions are silly, and some are really poignant,” she said. “There are some very touching personal stories being told.”