Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Bob’s Art Blog: A Prelude to the Year in Art–“I’m Fine”

The gingko leaf, a symbol of resilience and longevity, held personal meaning for Patrick Joyce. He loved to collect them and, as a young environmentalist; they were a perfect match.

The gingko tree utilizes outside resources to survive, and its extracts are linked to mental health wellbeing. Perhaps that was one of the reasons Patrick felt an affinity for them as he struggled with mental illness, surrendering to it in 2018.

A mask from the “I’m Fine” exhibit

As a parent, the devastating effects of losing a child is life-altering and can take its toll on the most fervent believer. In a manner of working through that loss and grief, Maureen Joyce dedicated the “I’m Fine” project to the memory and life of her son. Enlisting the help of close friend and arts activist, Carrie Breschi, the women developed this project through community workshops over the course of two years, addressing the ever-growing crisis of mental health. The pandemic has further pushed mental health boundaries to the tipping point, crippling a disproportionate number of society’s population.

What started as a six-week installation at the Carlisle Arts Learning Center (CALC) this past spring, the project has taken on a life of its own through grant-writing spearheaded by Breschi and Joyce. The exhibit itself is groundbreaking in its multiverse format. It takes a page from Marshall McLuhan, the Canadian communications theorist, as “the method used to communicate information has a significant impact on the message it delivers.” Powerful in its scope and presentation with a tour-de-force wall of painted ceramic masks, it leaves an enormous impact on the viewer as it presents the ravages of mental illness.

A mask from the “I’m Fine” exhibit

The duo has fostered rabid interest in mounting “I’m Fine” in cities and towns throughout Pennsylvania. Already, it has run in Carlisle, with the next stop taking place this month at the Capital Area Intermediate Unit (CAIU) in Enola. Headed to Creative York in March 2022, “I’m Fine” will reach out to the entire community in the White Rose City. Already booked are additional events in Perry County and in Pittsburgh. Word is it will come to Harrisburg by 2024. Recently, the team addressed the PA Legislative Arts and Culture Caucus in Harrisburg, well received by this august body of legislators. In addition, the Cultural Alliance of York was on board with the project.

For Joyce and Breschi, “The mental health conversations that ‘I’m Fine’ has started, pave the road ahead to take its message across the state” and to destinations elsewhere. Who knows? This may serve as a pilot program for workshops on a national level. “I’m Fine” originated out of a parent’s grief, perhaps the most unbearable thing to face in life. And yet, out of that, a life-saving force was born, growing from a grassroots seedling like the gingko tree represents, into a body of believers who embrace “I’m Fine,” that “talking, caring and sharing can make a difference,” and, for Maureen Joyce and Carrie Breschi, that someday “I’m Fine” will come to mean exactly that.


Art News for the New Year

A quilt by Tom Ward

Arts on the Square Gallery at Market Square Presbyterian Church presents fabric artist, Tom Ward, in his one-man quilting show opening Jan. 9 through Feb. 27. Creativity has no limitation when it comes to age. At 85 years young, Mr. Ward is still at his craft, specializing in Bargello quilts where the fabric is cut into long strips and sewn together in graduated color groups. Bargello needlework is believed to have originated in the 17th century in Eastern Europe. Ward states, “I start a quilt or wall hanging in the center to see how it evolves outward.” In addition, Roger and Debbie Olson will display examples of his woodworking and her stained glass, paper-cutting and knitting.

Opening day for the exhibit is Sunday, Jan. 9, in the upstairs gallery from 12 to 1:30 p.m. on the fourth floor of the church building, with a reception. The gallery will also be open for 3rd in the Burg on Friday, Jan. 21, from 6 to 9 p.m., and on Saturday, Jan. 22, from 10 a.m. to noon. Parking will be provided for all three events in the adjacent, city-owned Market Square Garage. Visitors should enter the church through a door on the first level of the garage and continue straight ahead to the elevator lobby. For more information, contact Arts on the Square artistic director Tyler Canonico at 717-257-1270.


Also Around Town

The Nyeusi Gallery Artist Series features in-person events at the gallery at 1224 N. 3rd St., Harrisburg. January dates to note:

  • Saturday, Jan. 8, Donny Lyons, abstract artist, 1 to 5 p.m.
  • Saturday, Jan. 22, Larry Washington Jr, photographer, 1 to 5 p.m.

Metropolis Collective at 17 W. Main St., Mechanicsburg, announces “A Wintry Mix VI: Tangled Up In Blue” art exhibit on Friday, Jan. 21, from 7 to 11 p.m., with live music, featuring Donna Jean Foster. For more information, call 717-458-8245.

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