New Art Exhibit Shines Light on Suicide

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Images by Tony Brown Photography

‘Thirteen Three’ on display through April 8

Every thirteen minutes and three seconds, someone in America commits suicide. On January 10, 1998, Roger Dunham was one of those people. But to his son, Christopher, that act was much more than just a simple statistic. Christopher Dunham was forever changed by his father’s suicide.

“The guilt, the isolation, the anger, the nightmares each night for years, me being diagnosed with PTSD I did not have the tools to overcome all this at once.  I did not ask for this but it was my journey. Therefore, I dealt with it in a very self-destructive behavior by sinking into my dark demons of drugs, alcohol, self-hate,” Dunham said.

It took years of work, but Dunham, a successful businessman and former pro baseball player, started on a long journey to come to terms with his father’s suicide. He pours his feelings out into an installation art exhibit titled “Thirteen Three” now on display at the House of Art gallery in Wynwood.

“My dream was to put this together several years ago but I simply was not strong enough mentally or spiritually. So, in the beginning of 2014 my heart was extremely heavy and something was yearning inside me to get this done, when all of a sudden my good friend Henrique Souza opened up his art gallery and invited us to one of his openings. When I walked in that evening to support my friend the floodgates opened up with all the visions I had been thinking about for year and how it could fit in Henrique's art gallery,” Dunham said.

What you see on display is the range of emotions people go through before taking their own lives. According to Dunham’s vision, the exhibit transports the participant on a journey into the last minutes of a chaotic mind, one “that chooses to end the living hell in which it finds itself.”

The installations also touch upon the lives and the emotional toll that suicide plays on those left behind. Even if you have not been personally impacted by suicide, it’s difficult not to get choked up as you walk through the gallery. This powerful project has helped Dunham heal.

“The art has been cathartic. It has given me a chance to forgive my father and myself in the process. Yet, at the same time to bring such a taboo subject to at least a discussion or awareness and hopefully I'm able to touch someone in a positive way or at least help them release their pain that I had endured all these years,” he tells SFGN.

The response to the show has been overwhelming. Looking ahead, Dunham is considering taking the exhibit on the road.

“I want to impact lives,” he said. ‘Thirteen Three’ is definitely impactful – and it keeps the memories of his father close by. “My father used to have a saying,” Dunham remembered. “It’s what you do with adversity that counts.”

Roger Dunham would be proud.

What: Thirteen .Three Art Installation

Where: House of Art Gallery 415B NW 26TH Street, Miami

When: Through April 8, 2015


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