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Thursday August 5th

'Hannah's Hope': Hillsborough gallery hosts art exhibit in honor of former OCS student

Artwork by Hannah Gettes, a former Orange County school graduate who died in February, is on display at Hannah's Hope art exhibit at Margaret Lane Gallery in Hillsborough, NC. Photo courtesy of Mary Knox.
Buy Photos Artwork by Hannah Gettes, a former Orange County school graduate who died in February, is on display at Hannah's Hope art exhibit at Margaret Lane Gallery in Hillsborough, NC. Photo courtesy of Mary Knox.

The "Hannah's Hope" exhibit honors the life and work of Hannah Gettes, a former Orange County Schools student who died in February after experiences with anxiety and substance abuse. The exhibit is on display at the Margaret Lane Gallery in Hillsborough from June 16 through July 11.

Hannah's mother, Edith Gettes, said Hannah's expressive art style showcased her funny and courageous nature. Gettes said art was a constant throughout her daughter's life.

"There would be pencils and papers and paint spread out on her floor," Gettes said. "You'd go in the middle of the night, and she'd be lying on her belly on the floor, painting or drawing."

After Hannah Gettes' death, her former visual arts teacher from Cedar Ridge High School, Lori Shepley, said she approached gallery owner Mary Knox and asked if she would be willing to host a show in memory of Hannah Gettes. Knox said the gallery would be happy to.

Shepley said they were able to find and frame around 30 of Hannah Gettes' works, covering a wide range of mediums. She also said she found some of Hannah Gettes' original write-ups to accompany the work.

"The first artwork she did for me was handled so beautifully. I was blown away," Shepley said. "I thought, 'Oh my goodness, this girl has so much talent. I'm so lucky to have her in the program.'"

Other students of Shepley, she said, contributed works to support the intention of the show, which is to honor Hannah Gettes and shed light on the issues surrounding mental illness and substance abuse.

Shepley said the exhibit excites her because it's helping Hannah Gettes' parents establish a legacy.

Hannah's Hope is showing in the Green Gallery, located at the back of the Margaret Lane Gallery. The gallery is open Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Knox said COVID-19 precautions are still in place, so the gallery is running air purifiers and providing hand sanitizer, a hand-washing station and free adult- and child-sized masks if needed.

"We believe it’s important because there are still people that are not yet vaccinated," Knox said. "To not require masks serves to exclude people."

The gallery will host a reception for Hannah's Hope on June 25 from 6 to 9 p.m. The Art Therapy Institute — a local organization that Hannah Gettes had hoped to volunteer for after the pandemic — will be at the reception to serve as a resource and answer questions about art therapy.

Knox additionally said the National Alliance on Mental Illness will be there to provide information and copies of the book "Finding Hope: A Practical Guide for Families Affected by Mental Illness Drawn from the Experience of Families Like Yours" by Donna Kay Smith and Susan Willey Spalt.

Those involved with the exhibit hope it will go beyond just displaying Hannah Gettes' array of artistic talents and shed light on the issues surrounding mental illness and substance abuse.

"If even one person has a less tragic outcome in their life by virtue of anything they see or learn at the show, that will be great," Edith Gettes said.

Gettes also said there will be another reception on July 11 for friends and family members who were unable to make it to the June 25 reception. She said her daughter's meticulous, perfectionist nature meant that she often didn't think as highly of her art as others did, and didn't show it off very much.

"Being able to see so much of her art in one place at the same time is going to be a unique opportunity," Gettes said. "We've never seen so much of her art in one place at one time."

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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