The Sobering Center had been looking to revamp the visual aspects of the sobering floor to make it feel warmer and more inviting for clients. That’s when Allie Walker, also known as Art by Allie along with Executive Director, Laura Sovine, started to brainstorm about how to make the space livelier while also maintaining a visual clinical environment.
“At first I had no idea what I wanted to paint for the Sobering Center,” said Allie. “As I toured the facility with Laura, we talked about what clients need the most from this space.” The Sobering Floor is an area for clients to rest as they actively recover from acute intoxication while being medically supervised and cared for. Before the mural, the Sobering Floor lacked color, which could be triggering for anyone who have been previously incarcerated or institutionalized.
“On the drive home, I was brainstorming about different compositions that are known for bringing feelings of peace and reassurance. I remembered the mandalas I saw from clients in another treatment facility, and their art therapy groups. I knew then that I wanted to recreate and share that experience with the clients at the Sobering Center as best as I could.”
Allie is a local Austin artist who has been painting for 16 years. Specializing in social practice art, Allie is also in recovery and uses art as a way to quiet the mind and reflect through creation. “Art is something I do, whether I intend to or not. I find myself sketching or creating all the time. My mind is full of ideas that I have to get out there. Making art is both a release, and a necessity.”
With a personal connection to our mission, Allie’s work does just stop at creating, but empowering others to use art as an expression. “Social practice art is community driven, and usually has elements in the final piece that have been contributed by people in the community. I love collaborating with others to make something truly unique that ties people’s common experiences together. My shows have included works by people in recovery at Austin Recovery and even from strangers anonymously submitting stories to me online. The most common element in my work is community.”
Once her paintbrush hit the wall, Allies work immediately had an impact. Throughout the mural painting process, Sobering Center staff received many compliments from clients about how the cool tones helped foster feelings of relaxation. Now that the mural is complete, the Sobering Floor feels more welcoming than ever before.
“I am thankful every day that I get to make art that is a service to others,” says Allie. “Not everyone gets to do something they love for a living, and I can’t express enough gratitude for the people who support me and make this possible.”