Special Art Talk: “Field Guide to a Crisis”

On Saturday, May 6th at 4pm, join artists Justin Maxon and Michelle Miller for a special Art Talk and presentation on “Field Guide to a Crisis” on view at the Morris Graves Museum of Art. “Field Guide to a Crisis” challenges us to rethink the most stigmatizing condition in the world, which, according to the World Health Organization, is addiction to illicit drugs. This ongoing socially engaged art project flips that narrative by activating the unique skills that individuals have developed in their recovery process. It functions as a teacher’s training tool by mentoring people residing in sober living homes in Eureka, CA to become “educators in resiliency.”

An essential question we are confronting with this work is who do we turn to normally in crisis? Typically, it’s experts who have been bona-fide by institutions and social hierarchies. What about experts of experience? Those who have dealt with the loss of community amidst crisis; like people in recovery. Society traditionally turns away from them out of projected shame and stigma. So this work asks us to rethink whose voices we elevate in times of crisis. It repositions people in recovery as experts by activating the skills they have developed as strategies for survival.

Once participants have identified, named and visualized their skill, they create a lesson plan consisting of a series of assignments that begins the transition from student to teacher. The participants test the effectiveness of the curriculum by completing the assignments themselves. Then, in a workshop setting, they choose and explore each other’s lesson plans, with the skill-holder serving as mentor.

To sign up for a public workshop visit:


This project has been generously funded by the California Arts Council, National Geographic Society, the Center for Photographic Art and the Humboldt Area Foundation.

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