ArtBeyond Exhibit Celebrates Art as Therapy

The show features the work of 12 artists suffering from injury or illness.


Works from ArtBeyond. Photo via Facebook

Chaz Southard has been painting since 2006. His digital work has won awards from art associations. He often sells the paintings he exhibits. He is also a quadriplegic.

Southard, formerly an avid skier and surfer, was paralyzed from the neck down in 2002 after a surfing-related spinal cord injury—but he wasn’t willing to give up his search for beauty. “It’s the search for transcendence of the soul, or the search for beauty and peace,” Southard says of art. “Prior to losing my physical strength, I could find that through [surfing]. I needed to find a way to continue to explore, to find those moments. Painting wasn’t something that I had ever done in a traditional manner, but it became a way for me to find that same state.” Now, Southard says he has learned to “simplify” traditional painting methods by using just a few colors placed directly on the canvas.

Chaz Southard

Southard’s work. Photo courtesy of ArtBeyond

So with the goal of using art as healing in mind, Southard organized ArtBeyond, an exhibition of works from 12 artists who have experienced some form of injury or illness, that will run from June 17 to October 4 at the McGladrey Art Gallery in Charlestown. “I think all art is therapeutic. I think it’s a good way for people to get out of themselves and to explore different parts of themselves,” Southard says. “The goal is really to unite people. There’s a variety of different illness and injuries that will be represented, from cancer to mental illness, brain injury, MS.”

But beyond bringing people together, ArtBeyond is also a vehicle to help the Travis Roy Foundation. A freak accident just seconds into his first college hockey game at Boston University in 1995 left Roy, who is a friend of Southard’s and whose work is featured in the exhibit, paralyzed. He started his foundation with the goal of raising money for spinal cord injury research and supporting those who suffer from such injuries, a goal that ArtBeyond and McGladrey will support by donating the full gallery commission of sales to the foundation. “Every little bit helps the scientists push forward,” Southard says of the fundraising effort. “Art is just one modality I’m using to try to further the research community.”

Travis Roy

Roy’s work. Photo courtesy of ArtBeyond


McGladrey Gallery, 80 City Square, Charlestown.