Exhibition Prospectus:
Drug Addiction: Real People,
Real Stories Exhibition

Art for Social Change

The INTO LIGHT Project, a national non-profit, creates public exhibitions of original portraits and individual stories of people who have died from the disease of drug addiction in locations around the country. Our mission is to change the conversation about drug addiction through the power of original art and story. We recognize the powerful influence of museums and galleries to promote social innovation and are looking for partnerships that inspire social change, through art. The INTO LIGHT Project will select one public academic museum or gallery in each state based on their ability to engage the community by building meaningful educational programming around the exhibit that addresses issues about the disease of addiction.

Each Drug Addiction: Real People, Real Stories exhibition consists of 41 original graphite portraits of people who have died from drug addiction in the state where the exhibit is held. Each portrait is accompanied by a professionally written narrative about the lives of the individuals in the exhibit. The INTO LIGHT Project works with local support groups, counties, municipalities, and other stakeholders to identify individuals for the exhibition. The original, professionally framed portrait and a catalog of the narratives of each of the individuals in the exhibit is gifted to the family of the deceased at the end of the exhibition.

The importance of the Drug Addiction: Real People, Real Stories, exhibit cannot be overstated. Overdose deaths in 2021 were 15% more than in 2020, and over 50% more than in 2019. In 2021, the United States lost an estimated 107,622 individuals from drug overdose, fentanyl poisoning or drug induced homicide- that’s more than gun violence deaths (45,037) and auto accidents (42,915) from the same year combined. This staggering loss of life is rooted in misinformation, health inequities and marginalization of those with substance use disorders (SUD) and extends to their families. It is critical to change public perception around this brain disorder by dispelling deeply entrenched stereotypes, changing stigmatizing language, and stimulating discussion. Research has confirmed that museums and galleries, as trusted sources of information, are uniquely poised to do this.

In her foreword for the Drug Addiction: Real People, Real Stories Catalog, Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health wrote:

“Science and art are not often thought of together in tandem, but the intersection of neuroscience to understand how the brain changes due to substance use and addiction and art to remind us of our shared humanity provides a powerful way to help alleviate deep-rooted stigma and inaccurate perceptions. While scientific evidence can build a case with evidence and data, the emotional connection experienced through art can be an even stronger argument for changed perceptions on addiction and overdose.”
Dr. Nora Volkow
Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health


A select group of artists throughout the country, identified for their ability to draw graphite portraiture in a classical style, help to carry out the work of the INTO LIGHT Project.

Artists from the state where the exhibits are held are our first priority.

Theresa Clower, Founder and Primary Artist
Theresa Clower, Founder and Primary Artist

Specifications / Size

The exhibition includes 41 framed portraits, each 14″ by 17,” narratives, one framed diversity statement (same size), and several informational panels. It requires, at minimum, approximately 100 running feet. The exhibition may be sized to fit your gallery specifications.

Specifications for INTO LIGHT Project

Sample Drawings and Narratives

Each Addiction: Real People, Real Stories exhibition is unique because it is based on submissions from individuals in the state where the exhibition is held. Sample drawings and narratives from previous exhibitions are below.
Tyler Ian Abbitt

Tyler Ian Abbitt

Beach Lover, pizza, family Tyler was extremely loving and kind. He loved animals and enjoyed doing things to help his family. As a child Tyler, his parents, and his older brother Travis all had fun times together. After baseball games, their dad, George, would pile them in the back of his pickup truck and take them for ice cream. In summers, they went to amusement parks, Atlanta Braves games, and to a lot of church-sponsored activities. The extended family gathered for birthdays and holidays, and the boys never passed up an opportunity to go to their grandparents’ house. Tyler’s mom, Peggy, said, “I must remind myself that as difficult as it was at times, my kids had a good upbringing and a good life. They had two parents at home who loved them, and wonderful grandparents, friends, cousins, and church members. It makes you wonder why things go bad.”[...]
Read Bio
Jason Abney

Jason Abney

Loving, carefree, fun, athletic, smart Described by his mother, Brandy, as an easy, fun, and energetic kid and her “little sidekick,” Jason was creative and enthusiastic about life. He ran track and played football and basketball, but his favorite sport was baseball. Jason’s dad, Greg, was his baseball coach. Jason’s sister, Mea, joked that she grew up at Belpassi baseball field. [...]
Read Bio
Steven Bettencourt

Steven Bettencourt

Brave, charismatic, super-smart, bossy, loyal With long, lion-like hair, a 5’11” frame, and an authentic, charismatic personality, Stevie energized any room he entered. People were drawn to him. His “uniform” of choice was a long black tee and Levi’s, accentuated by various shoes from his extensive collection. At home, he would relax in his basketball shorts and binge-watch television series with his mother, Stephanie, and sister Kalli. [...]
Read Bio


Note: INTO LIGHT will work in an advisory capacity throughout the exhibit on programming or other needs


  • Venue to provide/produce

    • Educational activities
    • Vinyl wall labels for Narratives, Artist Bios, Gallery Statements
    • Curation/installation
    • Marketing materials, social media content
    • Opening reception, location with capacity for 200, AV equipment, and tech support
    • Gifting Gathering, location with seating for 150, AV equipment, and tech support
    • Willingness to act as fiscal agent and provide grant writing support if necessary
    • Willingness to participate in media interviews
    • Willingness to participate in data collection

    • Surveys
    • Record keeping of groups utilizing exhibit for educational purposes
    • Record keeping of the number of people attending the exhibit

  • Length of Exhibit

    Agreed upon length of exhibit time, not less than six weeks – up to one year. (Negotiable)

  • Fee

    There is a nominal contribution and/or in-kind services requested by the host venue. The Drug Addiction: Real People, Real Stories exhibition is mostly funded by individual donations, county governments, and foundational grant support.

  • Availability

    • Booking for 2025 and beyond – one exhibit per state.
    • Exhibits have been held, or are in development in the following states: MD, NC, OH, PA, VA, FL, CA, DE, CO, AL, MA, OK, IA, UT, TX, NH, CT, SC, WA
    • This is a 10-year project, ending with a National Multimedia Exhibit with over 2000 portraits by 2029.

Opening Reception, Gromley Gallery, Notre Dame of Maryland University Baltimore, MD
Opening Reception, Gromley Gallery, Notre Dame of Maryland University Baltimore, MD

Past / Upcoming Venues

Year Venue
Maryland – Gromley Gallery, Notre Dame of Maryland University, Baltimore, MD. Oct. 28 – Nov. 19, 2019
North Carolina – Mission Gallery, AB Tech, Asheville, NC. Oct. 19- Nov. 20, 2020
Ohio – Malone University, Canton, OH. Jan. 4 – Feb. 12, 2021
Pennsylvania – Ware Center Gallery, Millersville University, Lancaster, PA. Mar. 4 – Mar 28, 2021
Virginia – Daura Museum of Art, University of Lynchburg, Lynchburg, VA Oct. 5 – Nov. 12, 2021
Florida – Orange County Regional History Center, Orlando, FL Mar. 5-April 15, 2022
California – Museum of Anthropology, California State University, San Bernardino, San Bernardino, CA September. 9, 2022-June 9, 2023
Delaware – Delaware Museum of Art, Wilmington, Delaware June 1, 2023-December 3, 2023
Colorado – University of Denver, Denver, Colorado August 31, 2023 – November 18, 2023
Alabama -University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL. July 8, 2024-June 27, 2025
Massachusetts – Wheaton College, Norton, MA – August 27, 2024-November 8, 2024
Oklahoma Center for Humanities, Tulsa, OK October 4-2024-December 21, 2024
Preparing for Gifting Gathering, Ware Center Atrium, Millersville, University, Lancaster, PA
Preparing for Gifting Gathering, Ware Center Atrium, Millersville, University, Lancaster, PA

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