Michal Behar is proud to sign her artwork.
"It gives me a voice to say I'm here and I matter as a human being,” said artist Michal Behar.
Behar has spent a lifetime struggling with mental disabilities including dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and synesthesia, a condition when the stimulation of one sense activates another.
She says her escape was doodling.
"When the teachers were talking, I was doodling. But I didn't think anything of it,” said Behar.
When Behar took an art class at the Institute for Community Living in East New York, she discovered she could turn her doodles into works of art. She's one of more than a dozen mentally disabled artists at the Institute who are using art as a form of therapy.
"I'm working on a painting of emotions, how we go through our emotions as we recover,” said Victor Alicea.
"Art is actually my safe space. It helps me through tough times,” said artist Daniel McCauley.
"My mental illness makes me feel like I have to be free in order to do all this. So I call this 'Freedom,’” said artist Jason Germain.
Freedom is one of the works by these artists that will be exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum which continues collaboration with the Institute that is now in its 16th year. Artist Dylan Stanfield teaches the class.
"It's not so much me teaching them how to do art. It's sort of to meet the artist where they're at and suporting that vision that they have. And helping them bring it up to a level where they feel comfortable showing it at a museum,” said Stanfield.
The exhibition is called "Seen and Heard". And that's exactly what Michal Behar says she needs.
"People need to be encouraged and heard and say they have the potential to do something. And that's what this place has given me. Hope, encouragement and possibilities,” said Behar.
And a showcase at a world class art institution.
Seen and Heard opens Friday November 1st and runs through December 16th.