July 11, 2020

In Appalachia, Crafting a Road to Recovery With Dulcimer Strings

Culture of Recovery is at the forefront of nascent efforts by museums and other cultural institutions to address the addiction crisis. Doris Thurber, an artist in Frankfort, Ky., started a program for women now called “Yes Arts” four years ago after the overdose death of her 27 year-old daughter, Maya Rose. In Manchester, N.H., The Currier Museum of Art has teamed up with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids on a program for parents and siblings dealing with a loved one’s substance use. With an art educator, the families discuss a painting or sculpture with a salient theme, and the contemplative nature of the space is a balm.

“We have a big social crisis in New Hampshire,” said Alan Chong, the museum’s director. “This is more important than a blockbuster show, to be blunt about it.”

In Hindman one evening, a harvest moon laying heavy in the clouds, Mr. Naselroad, the master artisan, donned a red cowboy shirt and a Stetson to host the “Knott Downtown Radio Hour,” a monthly show on WMMT FM — a “Hindman Home Companion” of sorts. One of the highlights is a “Songwriters Circle” of tunes written by those in recovery.

Last month, the show was recorded at Hickory Hill, which was built on an old strip mine site. Amid living room beams inscribed with words like “self-discipline and “perseverance,” “the Hickory Hill boys,” as Mr. Naselroad calls them on air, sang about regret, loss, longing and especially faith. One poignant anthem to the Lord was called “Calm a Storm in Me.”

Nevertheless, the storm of addiction is powerful. Dan Estep, who teaches blacksmithing for the program, lost a student to a fatal overdose recently. The man was in his mid-30s and the father of three. “This particular guy grew up with his whole family on drugs,” Mr. Estep said. “It must be like quicksand.”

Mr. Estep, 62, who has been a blacksmith for 40 years, said that teaching his craft to people in recovery is the most important work he has ever done. “We can give it all we’ve got, but in the end it’s up to the individual,” he observed. “Humanity is the biggest project of all.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/03/arts/design/kentucky-opioid-recovery-luthiery.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

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