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Patrick Van Dusen

June 2 - September 12, 2009


“It gives me hope to look at the pictures I have taken, it reminds me that I do not have to use any more.” —Anonymous Participant


The photographs in this exhibition have all been taken anonymously by residents of the Stewart-Marchman-Act inpatient treatment center for substance abuse in Daytona Beach under the direction of photography instructor, Patrick Van Dusen. What emerged out of a chance meeting over 14 years ago between Patrick Van Dusen and Mike Malia, a counselor at Stewart-Marchman-Act, quickly evolved into an innovative program using photography as an impetus for personal reflection and group discussion – important parts of the recovery process.

The goal of this program, as stated by Patrick Van Dusen is to “use the medium of photography for residents to see themselves, their lives, and their circumstances from a slightly different perspective and to have some fun in the process.”  Each week, a group of approximately 15 men and women, all in different stages of the recovery process, are given photography assignments.  These assignments are designed to be open ended in order to trigger emotions within the residents which they must then find a way to represent visually.  Once the assignment is explained, each participant is given 10-15 minutes to go out with a Polaroid instamatic camera, capture their image or images and then meet up with the group to discuss their creations.  The themes vary from week to week:  “What is missing in your life?, What’s good about you?, How do you see yourself…” Patrick has utilized over 100 different assignments since the first program and the list grows exponentially every year. While the participants learn a lot about themselves through the act of taking photographs, the discussion period at the end is just as important. It provides an opportunity for everyone to exchange their interpretations and feelings about their own images and the images of their peers.  As pointed out by Judy Dieterle, who observed the program in 2008 while in the nursing program at Daytona State College, there are many levels of therapeutic activity at work.  The underlying curative factors range from catharsis -- where participants are able to use their photographs to express deep emotions that may have been repressed or ignored, to universality, in which they begin to understand that their struggles with addiction are not unique and that they are not alone.  Along with their therapeutic properties, these assignments are also designed to be fun and to give the participants an opportunity to practice new behaviors and learn how to socialize with one another while remaining sober.

Each photographer has revealed a lot about themselves through their images. They have used the medium of photography to come face to face with their hopes, fears, strengths and their weaknesses and through the course of the program they have created meaningful, powerful, and beautiful statements about themselves and their experiences. These images can be related to on many different levels and by many different audiences, but overall, their greatest value remains with the photographer.  These individuals now have a visual record of their progress that can be looked upon as they make their way down the long and winding path to recovery.


This exhibition is part of our annual faculty focus at the Southeast Museum of Photography. Patrick Van Dusen has been a faculty member in the Photography program at Daytona State College for the past 31 years and specializes in studio portraiture.  He would like to express his gratitude to Ronnie Mabou, Alice Robertson, and Judy Dieterle and all of the Daytona State College students that have assisted with the program over the years. He would also like to thank family counselor, Cheryl Hammock for her assistance in getting the program up and running and, last but not least, he would like to thank his wife, Laurie Van Dusen, whose support, along with her degree in Psychology, were invaluable to the overall success of the curriculum for this unique substance abuse program.

Stewart Marchman-Act is a rehabilitation center in Daytona Beach whose mission is to offer services to individuals and families affected by mental illness, addiction, and delinquency through prevention, intervention, crisis stabilization, education, and treatment services. For more information about its services, please visit

About the Prints: 86 Prints, Polaroid Type 600 Integral Film

Written responses from the patients are available as a .pdf document. Please click here to view them.

Sample Exhibition Images:
Triptych Part 1
Triptych Part 2
Triptych Part 3

Installation Images:
Images of Recovery Installation Images
Images of Recovery Installation Images
Images of Recovery Installation Images

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The Southeast Museum of Photography is a service of Daytona State College
1200 W. International Speedway Blvd. (Building 1200) Daytona Beach, FL, 32114, (386) 506-4475
Free Admission & Parking

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Exhibitions and programs at the Southeast Museum of Photography are supported in part by Daytona State College, Volusia ECHO and the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on the Arts.

Daytona State College prohibits discrimination and assures equal opportunity in employment and education services to all individuals without regard to age, ancestry, belief, color, disability, ethnicity, genetic information, gender, marital status, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sex, and veteran status. For more details, read our Equal Opportunity Statement or contact: Lonnie Thompson, Chair of the Equity Committee at 386-506-3403 or 1200 W. International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach, Fl. 32114.