what we doHow We StartedOur ImpactOur StudiO

APP was founded in 2000 as a pilot program under the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Athens.

Our founder, Elise Mitchell Sanford, was a fine art photographer who recognized photography’s ability to explore identity and establish value in one’s perspective.

Ms. Sanford was also a concerned family member who witnessed first hand the stigma, marginalization, and lack of self-worth experienced by those living with mental health challenges. Photography, she felt, could change the inequality experienced by so many, and ensure individuals discovered their voice in their recovery from mental illness.

APP artists have actively ended cycles of isolation and negative self-perceptions by engaging in our photography classes and exhibitions,. Their lives and worlds have become visible once again.

Our first Introduction to Photography class led to the 2001 juried exhibition, I Have A Voice. Since then, our community of artists has steadily grown. Senior artists now work as peer mentors supporting those just beginning their journey as artists.

Continued interest in our program for twenty years has confirmed the power of the arts to truly help those in need establish a meaningful, purpose-filled life, in which they actively contribute to the community as working artists. Our history of success has redefined how artists serve as allies for those recovering from a mental illness.