Teresa Worley has endured her share of hardships. Injured in military training in the mid 1970s, she's had decades of setbacks, from an abusive relationship, to living on the streets, to witnessing her fiancé commit suicide and spiraling into mental illness. Things started turning around about a year ago. She now has a roof over her head at night. Worley who has used art therapy to regain ownership of her life, began operating Windsor's newest art gallery.
On a recent Friday, the small storefront gallery on Windsor Road was a welter of activity as Worley and a handful of friends readied the space for it's official opening.
Worley, at 62, said nothing is holding her back anymore. She's a good distance down the road to recovery, more than a decade after witnessing a man she loved deeply take his own life.
"The art therapy let my brain stop thinking. It stopped the replay. It stopped the sound of the gunfire. It stopped the screaming. It stopped everything. I got to not to have to talk. I didn't have to say what had happened, I could just lose myself, just for an hour and be lost in the art. I believe it saved my life," she said.
Now, she's determined to share those benefits, and create things of beauty or whimsy along the way.
"I said if I can help somebody get through the loss of someone they loved through suicide, I would do it with art therapy. And I just started honing on my art skills. I'm self taught and I just started doing it on my own, and I have a mentor that helped me and we just always talked about it. Always, always, always. Never thought that it would really happen. A year ago? There's no way I would have said I would be where I am, it's always been a dream. I didn't think it would really happen. It happened," Worley said.
Using part of a financial settlement with the federal government regarding her old military injury, and coaching from friends and advisors, she opened a gallery about a block off the town green, currently showing her own work.
"All of the art that I have on display is the result of PTSD, a result of Joe's death, in one way or another. It's all watercolors, it's all emotion based. There's pictures within pictures. Even though it looks whimsical, it's very deep. People look at my art and they say things that I, didn't think. I don't see the things that they see," she said.
Worley describes her work as contemporary-abstract.
"Most of the time, I don't know what I'm doing. Nothing is really planned in my paintings. Some of them are, but very few of them. I make a line or I make a dot or I make a circle and I've learned how to open up my mind and I don't think about it, I just start creating," Worley said.
She hopes to begin offering classes in the future and having group activities and talks in the space. For now, she's pursuing nonprofit status to open up possibilities.
The gallery, ArtBuyT, is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:30 to 7. Worley has one plea for the public-be kind and patient.
"if you know of anybody that is suffering from the loss of a loved one to suicide, go easy on them, there's no time schedule. It took me about eight years to get out of that moment, to now when those moments only happen twenty times a day instead of twenty-four-seven. We need love, we need support, not 'aren't you over it yet,'" she said.