ST. CLOUD -- An Avon photographer has teamed up with Catholic Charities to bring awareness to mental illness through art.

With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, photographer Barb Kellogg decided to partner with 15 members of the Catholic Charities HOPE Community Support Program for "What Mental Illness Feels Like - Images & Stories," a photographic art exhibit.

Kellogg says she interviewed each of the 15 people featured in the exhibit.

"The interviews are based on what their mental illness feels like, not so much the textbook definition but what it feels like to live your life this way."

When it comes to the different types of mental illnesses featured, Kellogg says it varies.

"It's not just depression, but anxiety, schizophrenia, multiple personality disorder, it's not specific to anyone in particular."

Kellogg says the goal of the project is to decrease stigma and increase awareness of mental illness. Walking through the exhibit you'll see a black and white photo of each person along with a story about the person.

"I really wanted to humanize mental illness, and I think to do that you need to look at who you are reading about. The interviews are boiled down into what is part of the exhibit that reflects a lot of their comments that they made, a little of their history so people understand the background of where they have come and how far they have come."

The number of people willing to let Kellogg share their story she says was overwhelming.

"Everyone has been so thankful that I have done this which surprised me. I was surprised at the amount of people that wanted to be interviewed. I'm a pretty private person so you just think other people are too. Just their support and thanks for doing this, it's been amazing."

The exhibit was open for a private viewing Thursday. It will be open to the public at the Gallery St. Germain in downtown St. Cloud, May 2 - 26. An opening reception will be May 3 from 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

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