AKRON, Ohio — Kimmy Henderson believes that art has the power to make a change.
She is an art activist who focuses on raising awareness about mental health.
"Sometimes it helps people express things that they can’t otherwise in words,” Henderson said. "You can express emotion and feeling in art and you can reach someone on a different level than just reading text or speaking language.”
She is the creator of the Bipolar Butterfly Project, a public art project to raise awareness about bipolar disorder.
“The Bipolar Butterfly Project is a project I started using my personal struggle with bipolar 1 disorder to help make change and end the stigma on mental health," she said. “I actually painted the first butterfly during my first manic episode and later realized how well it portrays all mental illness.”
The message of the Bipolar Butterfly Project is spreading throughout northeast Ohio.
Henderson has created large butterfly sculptures that are now in places such as The Akron Zoo, Belden Village Mall and Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens.
"Having it in such a normalized atmosphere, just making it present in everyday places so they don’t have to go to a hospital to hear about it or they don’t have to take a special class," Henderson said. "Just normalizing (mental health) and making it a part of everyday life is really healthy.”
Henderson already has plans for more installations of the Bipolar Butterfly Project in northeast Ohio.