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Local Artist Involved with ‘Art of Recovery’
By Penny Williams     6-11-14

A Raymond artist and photographer, Natalie Rotman Cote, is making a difference through her art by working with the Art of Recovery (AOR) program offered through the collaboration of the Seacoast Mental Health Center and the New Hampshire Art Association. The program is intended to raise money to support services for individuals with severe mental illness and emotional disorders. In its first two year, it has raised more than $22,000.

Art of Recovery pairs the mental health center’s client artists with professional artists from across the state to create collaborative works of art in a variety of mediums. Artwork completed through the program will be sold at an auction and dinner at Portsmouth’s Harbor Events and Conference Center on Friday, June 13.

Cote is a photographer who loves nature and animals. She strives to capture and share the beauty of the world through her photographs. When not taking photographs, she is a software engineer.

Cote said she learned about the program through a newsletter from the Seacoast Artists Association. Founded in 1963, Seacoast Mental Health Center (SMHC) is a state-designated community mental health center whose mission is to provide a comprehensive array of mental health services to residents of the eastern half of Rockingham County.

“I am interested in art therapy and this caught my attention, and I thought it would be fun to get involved in this program,” Cote said. “I went to organizational meetings where they determined what I like to do so they could pair me with someone from the SMHC client base who has similar interests.”

Today she is paired with a young adult female who painted as a child and wants to get back to painting.

For New Hampshire Art Association Executive Director Katharine Muth, Art of Recovery helps demonstrate art’s importance. “It’s a great program that provides wonderful access to art and artists who enrich daily life,” she said.

Cote said she and her partner meet once a week and paint. They are preparing two of their pieces for the auction in June.

“My partner has been painting even when we are not meeting together so she has lots of paintings done,” Cote said. “Getting back to painting has ignited her interest and it has been very beneficial for both of us. We have developed a comfortable relationship, and painting has provided her with an artistic outlet, taking her mind off her issues by focusing on the painting. The smile on her face when I hold up one of her paintings for her to look at is priceless. She is able to lose herself in painting and she thoroughly enjoys it.”

Citing strong support from the business community, SMHC Executive Director Jay Couture said the program provides a unique opportunity for both clients and professional artists to share their talents with the community. “Whether a client participates in the program or receives access to services as a result of monies raised through it, Art of Recovery has become an important part of our agency,” she said. “None of this would be possible without strong corporate backing.”

The benefits of participation in the program are important for both partners, Cote said.

“Being part of this program has brought me the opportunity to get back to painting,” she said. “I had backed off painting the last few years as I concentrated on photography. I have been interested in art as therapy and now am considering perhaps doing something with that, but it has been good to get back to painting. Both my partner and I say at the end of each session how much fun it was. It is a win-win for both partners, and the partners are equal, sharing a unique interest and artistic endeavor.

“I am getting so much from the experience, with my partner’s enthusiasm and from my own painting,” she added.

The art-driven partnership has developed into a comfortable relationship where her partner feels free to talk, Cote said, noting they recently took a shopping trip for supplies. Cote said she listens and provides her partner with a non-judgmental outlet in addition to working on their painting together.

Tickets for the benefit auction and dinner start at $50 per person and are available for purchase at www.artofrecoverynh.org.

The collaboration between a Raymond resident and her SMHC partner is indicative of the importance of volunteering and having the chance to make a difference in the life of someone else. As Cote pointed out, it has made a difference in her life as well.

For more information about Art of Recovery or to become a corporate sponsor, visit www.artofrecoverynh.org, or call Rob Levey at 957-5743.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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