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You Can Tell Me Anything: Art Of Harm Reduction

Opening Reception: Friday, March 10, 2018 6 – 10pm.
Artist Talk: Saturday, March 31, 2018 5:30 – 6:30.

Chicago Recovery Alliance:

Documentary Photography, Shirts, other Objects

Featuring Work by 
Nigel Brunsdon, photographer, activist
Suzanne Carlberg-Racich, PhD, DePaul University Masters of Public Health Program with
Chicago Recovery Alliance Members, and Others.

Curated by
Erica Ernst LCSW, RDDP, EMT-P, CADC, and
Luna Rail, Agitator Gallery Member.

“Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. Harm Reduction is also a movement for social justice built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who use drugs.

Harm reduction incorporates a spectrum of strategies from safer use, to managed use to abstinence to meet drug users “where they’re at,” addressing conditions of use along with the use itself. Because harm reduction demands that interventions and policies designed to serve drug users reflect specific individual and community needs, there is no universal definition of or formula for implementing harm reduction.

– Harm Reduction Coalition

People who inject drugs experience constant stigma perpetuated by societal constructions of drugs and the people who use them, with those that drink alcohol facing little stigma, and those who inject heroin being perhaps the most vilified group. Such stigma manifests every day in approaches that moralize, punish, shun, and marginalize those who inject drugs, resulting in structural inequities that inhibit health and life.

Dr. Carlberg-Racich’s project employed a phenomenological and community-based participatory approach to explore the lived experience of people who inject drugs in Chicago. A diverse group of people who inject drugs became research partners in an effort to document experiences of stigma and support in their communities through photography and personal narrative.

Photos and narrative were analyzed collaboratively by the research team and a Community Advisory Board comprised of people who inject drugs. The resulting exhibit illustrates the ongoing, devastating stigma experienced by people who inject drugs in Chicago communities. Documenting the lived experience of this community is important work, restoring a voice to a population that is systematically silenced by society. It is a

collective purpose that the photos and narrative will prompt social, political and practical change by facilitating dialogue focused on correcting the vast structural inequities that perpetuate harm and divide our communities.