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Workshop keys on healing nature of art

Before she puts on her "fancy pants" clothes her Oct. 13 concert at the Sheldon Theatre, Storm Large invites the community to come to the Sheldon stage at 4 p.m. for a conversation that has nothing — and everything — to do with her music and her unconventional childhood.

Large grew up the daughter of a woman who was frequently to be found in mental institutions and psych wards. When she was 9, Storm asked one of the doctors if she was likely to be crazy like that someday.

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He said yes, her mother's condition was hereditary, and with those words created what amounted to a mental time bomb hanging over her.

Large told the story of how mental illness, addiction and music shaped her life in a memoir, "Crazy Enough." Released in 2012 by Simon & Schuster, in was named Oprah's Book of the Week and it received the 2013 Oregon Book Award for Creative Nonfiction.

One reviewer called it "a ballsy, heartbreaking, hysterical tour de force" that is both "vulgar and fragile, tragic and overpowering, and like Storm, it is always entertaining."

Music is one of the assets that gave Large the will to overcome whatever she had to face.

At the workshop, Large hopes that teachers and caregivers, artists and others who care about the topic will come for a conversation on topics including the healing nature of artistic expression.

"People feel weird" and left out if they're not good at the popular activities such as sports, she said. The arts may be the one thing those kids love. "Yet schools have gutted artistic programs — the arts are not considered important."

Studies show that people with mental challenges often respond to creative stimulation, she added.

When people see glamorous Storm Large on stage they don't see the girl who was fearful and turned to sex and drugs to cope, she said. "Knowing that that person has struggled is healing and helpful."

People who come for the hour workshop should check in with the box office. The event will include questions, a sound check and the guided conversation. For more information or to reserve a spot, sent a note to jstaley@sheldontheatre.org.

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