Art can be an outlet for healing for both the creator and the observer. With this in mind, Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services has teamed once again with local art group Creative Crossing for a community project.
Similar to an event held in May, a scavenger hunt will take place this weekend in the Oleander neighborhood, this time recognizing September as National Suicide Prevention Month and Recovery Month.
Since last week, 11 artists from the local mural-making group have carved out time to work on murals using chalk art addressing these mental health concerns.
"We wanted to send a message of hope and to not give up," said artist Sarah Nobles, who founded Creative Crossing with Kei Deragon. "The images show relationships, show humanity. The overall message is you're not alone and don't give up."
“With COVID-19, social unrest and wildfires, this year has brought a lot of changes that have had a dramatic impact on how we live our lives," KernBHRS Director Bill Walker said in a news release. "What’s not changed is the amazing work by professionals in the behavioral health field who are helping individuals through their addictions or recover from trauma. People are also winning their lives back from addiction and trauma.
"Now is a time to come together and celebrate the successes and raise awareness about recovery and suicide prevention to normalize these topics within our community."
The work is intended to reach "anyone who is struggling this year," Nobles said.
"We're all struggling. This can be a reminder to our community that no matter the circumstances that you are going through, we all face troubles and we all face struggles."
Spread out over nine locations (see infobox) including Beale Park, the 7-Eleven on Chester Lane and City Smog on California Avenue, the murals will provide an opportunity for people to get out of the house for some fun. Whether driving to locations or walking (following social distancing guidelines), the route is a great outing for families and art lovers.
Nobles said they're also offering a few surprises for people along the way. Some local artists and businesses donated work and products that will be hidden along the scavenger hunt route. Items are available to the first person who finds them and there will be a note encouraging the lucky finder to share their prize on social media. Nobles said the artists are eager to see who takes their work home.
Creative Crossing will also have a popup tent set up Thursday and Friday with more information on the artists' group as well as resource materials from KernBHRS.
For those who can't make it out to see the art in person, Nobles and Deragon will lead a virtual tour of the murals via Instagram when they take over the page of No Place Like Home (@noplacelikehomefest), a community outreach program from Bitwise Industries. Tune in at 11 a.m. Friday for the tour.
Along with the hunt, there will also be yoga, meditation and other relaxation sessions held Thursday and Friday at the Seeds of Inspiration Community Garden (405 Eye St.). Space is limited and masks are required.
The hunt will be held Friday through Sunday but Nobles said she expects the chalk art will remain up through at least the end of the month.
KernBHRS has planned other events throughout September to celebrate recovery and suicide prevention and bring awareness to both causes. Visit kernbhrs.org/community for a complete list of activities, all of which will have a social media and/or digital component.
For more information on Creative Crossing, visit facebook.com/thecreativecrossing.