by Aaron Beatty
Just down the road from the main Riggs campus is a small historic building with a purple door at 37 Main Street. Actually, the door is more a shade of light purple; one might call it lavender. This is the first impression of The Lavender Door, a dedicated studio space where professional artists offer individual instruction and workshops in fiber arts, woodworking, ceramics and visual arts to Riggs patients.
Patients go to the Lavender Door for a wide variety of reasons and to engage in a plethora of artistic mediums. It is a place where patients become students and a place where artists can help patients frame their creativity and provide a space, means and context to explore.
Mark Mulherrin, Instructor of Visual Arts at the Austen Riggs Center for the last 15 years, calls it a “very unique, interpretation free zone” where “you can have a real effect on people”. Mark’s own depth and breadth of medium, material and subject matter make him an ideal visual arts instructor who can “make anything out of anything.”
Since 2004, the gallery at The Lavender Door has been “exhibiting artwork of outsiders and under recognized artists in the Berkshire region.” The current installation, Small Qualities, features a compelling collection of recent oil and wax on canvas paintings by Mark Mulherrin. Later this February, the Lavender Door will feature an exhibition of ceramic sculpture that Mark calls “wild and imaginative” by a Lavender Door student. Be sure to stop by and see Mark’s current exhibit and all the upcoming exhibits at the Lavender Door gallery.