To celebrate September’s designation as National Recovery Month, visual artist Douglas Lail is exhibiting a series of portraits and accompanying addiction recovery stories at Parish Hall in Biltmore Village. Lail, who has been working on the collection titled Hello, My Name Is… for more than a year, explains his earliest motivations for undertaking the project. “Addiction is often filled with shame and discrimination. Even in recovery, many of us still struggle with these same issues,” he says. “Having been in recovery since January 2013, I still experience difficulty at times, being open and honest about it with people outside the recovery community.”
He continues, “If we are only as sick as our secrets, why is recovery my biggest secret? How joyous, happy and free can I expect to be when harboring anything that I would not willingly tell another person? It is my hope that through the Hello My Name is… project, that those that choose to will find the strength and courage to step outside the rooms and break free from the lingering social stigma of addiction.”
Lail’s black and white sketches depict contemplative faces, many of which are presented alongside a quote and backstory from the individual overcoming addiction. Not only is his artwork geared toward documenting the process of abolishing alcohol and drug habits, but it’s also relevant to those battling other significant life challenges. Breaking harmful cycles, he says, benefits families, communities and societies as a whole in addition to the individual.
In early 2015, Lail debuted his first 11 works, later gaining momentum with a successful Kickstarter campaign and fiscal sponsorship from the Asheville Area Arts Council. To date, he’s captured 30 experiences on paper — all of which will be on display and printed alongside quote excerpts in a catalog at the upcoming exhibit.
“When a human being is taken to the depths of darkness by addiction and recovers, there is a light that grows,” he says. “My mission is to paint the light I see in the mirror as well as the light I see in people in recovery around me. Hello My Name Is… offers a look at the faces of people who face their greatest fears and reunite with the world.”
The Hello My Name Is… project will be displayed at Parish Hall’s Cathedral of All Souls in Biltmore Village Saturday, Sept. 26, from noon to 6 p.m. Admission is free. Visit hmni.org for more information.