News Release — Brattleboro Museum & Art Center
802-257-0124, ext. 113
October 5, 2018 – January 7, 2019
Photography exhibit and related events shed light on struggle to recover from addiction
Brattleboro Museum & Art Center partners with local mental health and social service agencies to address pressing community issue
BRATTLEBORO, VT — An upcoming photography exhibit and series of related events organized by the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) in Brattleboro, Vermont, shed light on what it takes to recover from addiction, a daunting challenge facing individuals, families, and communities throughout the United States.
Supported in part by the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, and sponsored by the Brattleboro Retreat, “If She Has A Pulse, She Has A Chance” consists of 32 photographic portraits of Vermonters recovering from addiction and 13 printed text panels containing gripping first-person narratives by people in recovery (selected images here). The photographs were taken and narratives collected by documentary photographer Michael Poster at Turning Point of Windham County, a downtown Brattleboro community center for those whose lives have been affected by addiction.
Of Poster’s work, Turning Point Executive Director Suzie Walker says, “I’ve had a front-row seat to watching Michael collect recovery portraits and stories the last couple of years. He has captured the hope and promise of recovery in a compelling and compassionate way, and people have been thrilled to open up to him. I’m eager to see how our community responds to the good news of recovery, as lived by these brave people every day.”
The title of the exhibit is drawn from something Poster once heard from a friend who helps opioid users get medically assisted treatment: “I refuse to give up on her. You just never know when someone will be ready to change. The way I see it, if she has a pulse, she has a chance.”
The exhibit opens October 5 in BMAC’s Center Gallery and remains on view through January 7. During that time, BMAC, in partnership with the Brattleboro Retreat, Turning Point, and Groundworks Collaborative, will present four free public events (see list below) aimed at galvanizing constructive conversation about addiction and recovery.
An opening reception for “If She Has A Pulse, She Has A Chance” will take place at BMAC on Friday, October 5 at 5:30 p.m. during Brattleboro’s monthly Gallery Walk. The reception is free and open to the public. Four other exhibits will open concurrently. Alcohol will not be served.
For more information, visit www.brattleboromuseum.org or call 802-257-0124, ext. 101.
ABOUT THE ARTIST: MICHAEL POSTER
As a documentary photographer, Michael Poster creates portraits of communities, often spending years getting to know his subjects and developing the trust required to take their pictures and record their stories. Poster’s previous projects have included documenting life in Montrose, Pennsylvania, a town thrown into upheaval by gas fracking, and on Basin Farm, a messianic community in Bellows Falls, Vermont.
Poster’s connection to his newest body of work, “If She Has A Pulse, She Has A Chance,” is a deeply personal one. Poster himself is a recovering addict, and he regularly volunteers at Turning Point of Windham County.
“I often get close to the people I photograph, but it’s unusual for me to become involved in a subject connected to my own life,” says Poster. “As a young man I was addicted to heroin. In 1970 I left everything and everyone I knew in Philadelphia and moved to Derby, Vermont. With the help of methadone and new friends, I began the long process of recovery and personal reinvention. Now, forty-seven years later, I volunteer at Turning Point. When I’m not facilitating group recovery meetings, I make photographs of the people I meet and listen to their stories.”
A COLLABORATIVE “WEB OF RECOVERY”
By partnering with the Brattleboro Retreat, Turning Point, and Groundworks Collaborative, BMAC hopes to foster deeper understanding of the complex interrelationships among mental health, homelessness, addiction, and recovery, as well as greater awareness of the community resources available for each. To that end, representatives of the partnering organizations, with assistance from Communicators Group, a marketing communications agency in Keene, N.H., have conceived of a “web of recovery” that will be depicted in graphic form on one of the exhibit walls.
Michael Poster, photographer:
“Most people think of recovery as the act of changing from a state of sickness to a state of health. In other words, of being sick and getting well. I get that. But there’s another way of looking at the word that makes more sense to me… Let’s say you lost something of value or it’s been stolen from you, or you threw it away. Recovery is the act of retrieving that thing, of getting it back in your possession and under your control.”
Louis Josephson, President & CEO, Brattleboro Retreat:
“It’s important to appreciate the fact that people who struggle with addiction are our neighbors, friends, and family members. Michael Poster’s photographs bring that message home and remind us that courage, hope, and determination are powerful forces in the process of recovery.”
Joshua Davis, Executive Director, Groundworks Collaborative:
“This project is of particular importance given the cross-sector nature of putting on a show at the Museum that focuses on people’s stories of recovery. I’m excited for Groundworks to be involved, and I look forward to actively participating in a wide range of gatherings and conversations in the fall around our community’s response to recovery efforts.”
All events take place at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center.
October 11, Thursday, 7 p.m.
THE NEUROLOGIC BASIS OF OPIOID DEPENDENCE
Dr. Maria Gallo of Clean Slate Centers for Addiction Treatment in Greenfield, Mass., discusses the effects of drug addiction on the brain and central nervous system.
October 17, Wednesday, 7 p.m.
SHARING OUR STORIES
Participants in the writing group Writers for Recovery read their work.
November 29, Thursday, 7 p.m.
GALLERY TALK: MICHAEL POSTER
Photographer Michael Poster discusses his life and work with BMAC Chief Curator Mara Williams.
December 13, Thursday, 7 p.m.
PANEL: ADDICTION & RECOVERY IN OUR COMMUNITY
Susan Avery, Lt. Adam Petlock of the Brattleboro Police Department, Suzie Walker of Turning Point of Windham County, and Kurt White of the Brattleboro Retreat share their perspectives on addiction and recovery resources in the Brattleboro area. Moderated by Geoff Kane, MD, Chief of Addiction Services at the Brattleboro Retreat.
Director, Brattleboro Museum & Art Center
802-257-0124, ext. 108
Konstantin von Krusenstiern
Vice President, Development and Communications, Brattleboro Retreat
Executive Director, Turning Point of Windham County
Executive Director, Groundworks Collaborative