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HANFORD — With her newest piece, “Death by Pills,” local artist Tanya Miller uses her art to break the silence and taboo around suicide.

“I wanted to bring awareness to the fact that people are taking their lives with pills,” Miller said. “People blame the doctors and the pharmacies, but you’re the one putting it to your mouth. You’re the one taking them.”

Miller has had friends and family that have had battled addictions to prescription pills and alcohol, she said. The grief of losing loved ones to addiction is what inspired her art piece, “Death by Pills” and other works of art with similar messages, often using actual pills in the art itself.

The artist said that there’s often a “domino effect” of consequences that suicide and accidental overdose deaths create in their wake. These after-effects can leave surviving loved ones with life-long trauma and ruin relationships, she said.

“A lot of people don’t want to talk about suicide. But it’s time to talk about it. It’s time to heal,” Miller said.

“Death by Pills” is on display at the Kings Art Center’s Spring Show through June 1. The photograph features a skull with a familiar orange pill bottle in its mouth; the top of the skull is removed to show that it is full of discarded pills.

It took Miller three months to gather those pills from friends, she said. Her intention was to not only realize her artistic vision with real pills, but to get excess and unneeded pills out of the circulation.

Accompanying the photograph is a QR code that, when scanned by a smart phone will take viewers to a four-minute short film. The film, shot at DJ’s Collectible Shoppe in downtown Hanford, captures grief, loss and encourages viewers to “break the silence” on the taboo issues of addiction and suicide and to openly discuss the topic.

The 2019 Spring Exhibit, exhibited in the center’s Marcellus Gallery, features two- and three-dimensional works of art by many members of the Kings County Art League and other local artists.

“This is an exhibit not to be missed,” the Center’s Executive Director, Bruce Kane, said in a press release. “This show leaves no doubt that the Central Valley produces art work that deserves recognition.” 

Running concurrently in the Members Gallery is the Hanford Pottery Club’s “Old Hands” exhibit, a collaborative effort from the Hanford Adult School Potters group.

The Kings Art Center is located at 605 N. Douty St., Hanford.

For more information, call 559-584-1065 or visit www.kingsartcenter.org.

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Contact the reporter at pbowman@hanfordsentinel.com

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