Julie Shuford Photography
We at Arbus have known you, Kim, since your days as co-owner of the Spiller Vincenty Gallery. Can you take a minute to stroll down memory lane and share a few anecdotes from your art sector days?
My dear friend Marilyn Spiller and I co-owned Spiller Vincenty. We loved our years in the Jacksonville art scene and still have wonderful relationships with the artists we met along the way. We were passionate about introducing contemporary art to the Jacksonville market and creating a space where all art forms could flourish. The gallery had art on the walls, but it was also a performance space for spoken word, dance, theater, and installation work. We had great openings, met wonderful people, and perhaps had more fun than two gals should be allowed! We remain very proud of what we did, but life marches on, passions shift, and circumstances lead us in directions we never expected. Incredibly, Marilyn and I are now both involved in behavioral health, and Marilyn has become an invaluable member of the board of our new nonprofit.
Are you still involved in the arts?
I still love the arts and try to stay involved through museum membership events and attending art events in my travels. I have tried to tie my love of the arts with my obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) work. When I was with OCD Jacksonville, we held art nights at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville (MOCA) for nearly a year. People living with OCD and their families created “Exposure Canvases,” mixed media pieces that depicted fear triggers or intrusive thoughts. MOCA ultimately gave us a public exhibition; the work was fabulous. We also took the entire collection to the International OCD Foundation Conference in Austin, Texas. With JACK Mental Health Advocacy, our new nonprofit, we are partnering with MOCA to do a virtual art therapy project that will launch this fall. I’m trying to marry my passion for both mental health and art.
Your transition to a career in mental health came about through a personal experience with your son’s OCD. Can you please share the impetus for your decision to fully pursue mental health advocacy beyond the walls of your own home?
OCD is not a euphemism for being neat or orderly or liking things clean or sanitary. It is one of the most symptom complex mental disorders, and the World Health Organization ranks it as one of the 10 most handicapping conditions. There is so much misinformation and stigma. I simply couldn’t just sit around hoping people around us would “get it.” I began leading family support groups, helping others learn about the disorder and where and how to find resources, and lending emotional support to those navigating this disorder. I was then asked to join OCD Jacksonville, an affiliate of the International OCD Foundation. I served there for eight years, becoming vice president and then president of that organization. We accomplished some wonderful things, but in this season of life, I wanted more flexibility and had a deep desire to expand my reach.