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HANFORD — Local artist Tanya Miller hopes to open some eyes at the opening reception of her exhibit this Friday.

Miller’s exhibit, entitled “Open Your Eyes,” opens in the Members Gallery of the Kings Art Center from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday evening.

Miller’s artwork depicts drug addiction, mental illness and the stigma and culture surrounding those topics.

"I want to showcase mental illness awareness and say, ‘this is OK to talk about,’” Miller said. “A lot of people just will not talk about suicide. There are people who won’t talk about their addiction or a family member’s addiction. But it’s OK to open up.”

Miller, has issues with addiction and mental illness in her own family, said that the first step to seeking help is to talk about such problems. She hopes her art can open a dialogue about such issues.

“You don’t usually go to the [Kings Art Center] and see someone with a pill in their artwork or a syringe,” she said. “It’s real stuff.”

While many of the art pieces to be shown had been finished already, waiting for a gallery, Miller wanted to continue experimenting with audio visual components and found the exhibit to be the perfect excuse to do so.

At a previous Kings Art Center exhibit, Miller unveiled a piece of art accompanied by a QR code that linked to a YouTube video that expanded on the art’s themes. She liked the process so much, she’s currently producing two more videos for the exhibit.  

Just a week away from the exhibit’s opening, Miller was editing and finalizing two of the three short films that would accompany certain pieces in the exhibit.

The videos flesh out the themes and message of certain art pieces. Some of the videos do this with short-form narrative storytelling while another uses a more true-to-life documentary approach.

“We actually asked people right here in our community to tell their story,” Miller said.

In addition to the videos, Miller will show paintings, collages and photography.

In addition to “Open Your Eyes” opening in the Member’s Gallery, the Marcellus Gallery will host the opening of a self-titled exhibition from Venice, California artist Trowzers Akimbo, also known as Bill Davis.

Davis got his start in the art world by doing body-painting on models for “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” before moving on to work for “The Tonight Show, Starring Johnny Carson,” “The Gong Show” and other television shows, winning a primetime Emmy award in the process.  He also oversaw the creative direction of dozens of video games while working for iWin, Sierra Online and other software companies.

These exhibits are sponsored by the Art Center’s partners at Renewable Solar. The exhibits will open with a celebratory reception from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 17, at which hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be served. Both artists will be at the reception to meet and greet local guests. The public is welcome at this free event. The exhibits will be open to the public from Jan. 18 through Feb. 29.

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