Creations of Hope Gallery art show: Topeka artist speaks through her photography

For Mary St. John, photography is the art that gives voice to her thoughts and feelings.

On Friday, St. John was among the artists mixing with art collectors at the Creations of Hope Gallery in NOTO during the Glow Green event to highlight mental health awareness. May is mental health awareness month.

The gallery at 909 N. Kansas Ave. opened in February as a program of Valeo Behavioral Health Care, said Christine Wills, mental health director at Valeo.

While live musicians performed in the background on Friday, patrons browsed art created by artists dealing with mental health issues and those who don’t face those issues, said Cara Weeks, an art therapist in the Valeo Expressive Therapies.

One in five adults experiences a mental health issue in a given year, Weeks said.

“Our goal (at Valeo) is to start the conversation about mental health and help them to make things get better,” Weeks said. Art helps someone to carry the added burdens of mental health problems, she said.

For St. John, photography has been her favorite art since 2000.

At Emporia State University, she earned a bachelor’s degree of fine arts and bachelor’s degree in art education. She has been an art teacher at Washburn Rural High School for a year, where she taught three classes of photography. Overall, St. John has been a teacher about 10 years.

“Most of my art work is in women’s issues or mental health issues,” St. John said. On Friday, she had three photographs of women on display.

Since she was a child, St. John, the daughter of artists, has enjoyed art.

“In college, I found it was a way to express things that I couldn’t say with words,” St. John said. “I find I have more freedom with art.” She also shoots wedding photographs for Friends and family members.

Last year she sold photography at the Aaron Douglas Art Park, S.W. 12th and Lane, an annual event in September which focuses on art and music.

Besides St. John’s works, posters created by her…

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