Twenty-three years ago, Alexia Jones was a single mother, on a path of recovery from substance abuse, and struggling to make ends meet. She found strength, support and healing through dance, and used art to avoid the desire for mind-altering substances.
Jones created R2ISE, a program that provides a safe space for people in recovery. The name is an acronym for recovery, restoration, inspiration, support and empowerment. “We use art as the modality through which we tell our stories,” Jones says.
R2ISE presents Chronicles of Hope annually in September to celebrate National Recovery Month — this fall, in a new partnership with Emory Dance and Movement Studies Program. Through visual art, dance, theater and spoken word, artists will express stories of addiction and mental health struggles — and of hope and resilience — demonstrating the tagline of R2ISE: “Art + Recovery = Freedom.”
Chronicles of Hope will include Found Art, an exhibition featuring visual art created by artists in recovery, as well as live performances on Friday and Saturday evenings. After the performances, the artists will hold talkbacks to raise awareness, share collective hopes and advocate for recovery in the community.
Jones will participate in “Portrait of an Activist: A Conversation with Alexia Jones,” a free, public conversation tonight (Thursday) with Emory Dance director Lori Teague presented by Emory Center for Creativity and Arts. On Saturday, from 10 a.m. to noon, Jones will co-facilitate a workshop, “The Art of Cultural Agility,” alongside Dr. Dietra Hawkins, board director of One Small Change, a group that partners with organizations that support individuals in recovery. The programs will be held at the Emory Performing Arts Studio.
Through performances, workshop and conversation, the artists hope to create a bridge between the general community and those in recovery and help remove the stigma that surrounds mental illness and addiction in our society. “We lose lives every day because people just don’t understand,” Jones says. “That’s what Chronicles of Hope is all about — sharing our stories. It’s about educating, advocating, raising awareness and sharing hope so that our communities can heal.”