Patients Take to Painting

By: Damon Dillman
By: Damon Dillman

The walls at the Western State Hospital in Staunton used to be drab and lifeless. But thanks to the work of some patients, that's no longer the case.

On Thursday, close to 100 pieces of art were unveiled, as part of the hospital's first-ever student art show.

"I think it turned out great," said Susan Baizley, the hospital's art teacher. "I think it shows really well. I'm very, very proud of what they've done, and I think they should be, too."

Baizley started teaching art at the hospital last September. She has about 30 students, including Mark Zawhorodny.

"It's a lot of fun," said Zawhorodny, who has three pieces of art on display. "And we put a lot of work into it."

Baizley says her classes are a way for patients to relax, and express themselves. It's also a hobby they can do in their free time - which can be an important lesson.

"A lot of what we encourage here at the hospital is developing leisure skills that they can enjoy once they're discharged from the hospital, or while they're here at the hospital," she explained.

The artwork was also displayed throughout May at the Staunton/Augusta Art Center, as part of Mental Health Month.

And as he looked at the work of his classmates, Zawhorodny said he liked what he saw.

"It's an incredible amount of art," he said. "Some is better than others, but every one counts."

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