MISSION, Kan. -- At first glance, it looked like a typical art showing at the VALA Gallery in Mission on Thursday night. But according to therapists, the artwork on display is helping the victims of crime to heal.
The display, hosted by the Johnson County District Attorney's Office, is part of National Crime Victim’s Rights Week. The art is produced by the victims of crime and their families, and helps them to express the feelings often felt by the victims of crime.
Johnson County District Attorney Stephen Howe says that it's important that the victims of crime are heard.
"Every crime that is done, there is a victim that also needs to be represented," said Howe.
Peggy O'Neal displayed a painting she made in honor of her brother, Michael, who had special needs. His caretaker left him and another man in a hot car unattended, and Michael overheated and died. The caretaker was later sentenced to prison.
"This was my passion. This was my love for him," said O'Neal. "I had been grieving over my brother a long time and I needed something to be therapy. Some kind of therapy for me to heal."
High school student Kris Roller created a work of her own for the event. She says that she created the work to cope with what she says is constant bullying and discrimination because she's bisexual.
"I burned a hole in it because that's what I felt I need to to do," said Roller, talking about her piece. "Everyone says God hates you, you're going to Hell."
Stephanie Gray, co-owner of Creative Nectar studio, which offers "process painting" instruction, says that art really helps people to heal.
"It's just a magical experience," said Gray. "We are not there for the end product. It's more about painting what's inside out onto the paper."