Photo credit: NAMI Wake County

Last Sunday, volunteers for the Wake County chapter of the National Alliance for Mental Illness placed hundreds of 45-inch-high irises with 14-inch blooms on a half-acre of the grounds of Rex Hospital at the corner of Blue Ridge Road and Lake Boone Trail in Raleigh.

The landscape-art installation is a re-creation of Vincent Van Gogh’s Irises, painted while the artist was in a mental institution, a year before his death in 1890.

The event was part of NAMI Wake’s eighth-annual Celebration of Hope. NAMI has adopted the iris as a “symbol of hope and courage.”

“Our goal is to raise awareness that mental illnesses are brain disorders,” NAMI Wake’s Ann Akland said in a release, “that with treatment there is hope, and that there is no reason for blame or shame.”

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