DENVER -- It's an art exhibit in Denver with the usual accoutrements: thought-provoking creations, food and drink and enlightened conversation.
But each of these artists shares a painful problem.
Each suffers from an eating disorder, including Mary Baldwin.
The 21-year-old from Rockford, Illinois has sought treatment form the Eating Recovery Center three times for anorexia and excessive exercise.
"I use my eating disorder behavior to run away from what I'm feeling."
This time she believes she has her eating disorder under control--thanks in part to art therapy.
"It was kind of like continual journaling. It was a really, really neat experience,” she says. “Different moods bring different marks on the page. It's an interesting way to connect with myself in different ways."
Baldwin’s piece is called the Doodle Tree.
"It represents growth," she says.
It incorporates words guiding her recovery: hope, empowerment and accepting imperfection.
"That is what brings out these behaviors, is avoidance of emotional life," says art therapist Lisa Talucci.
Talucci says art helps patients process emotions they typically bury.
"There is an inherent healing process that goes on in creating art because it bypasses language. It goes to a more authentic experience that we can’t put words to," she says.
Today Baldwin creates art with words that signify her journey now: courage, truth and thriving.
She says she’s not just surviving anymore.
"I'm pretty hopeful at the moment, in my last few days here," she says with a smile.
It's artwork that represents pain and hope for a better tomorrow.
"I'm just excited to be a young woman in the world again," says Baldwin.
The 22 pieces of art also allow patients to contribute to a bigger cause of eating disorder awareness, and trying to help others like themselves.
The art exhibit runs through Saturday.