How Bill Carpenter Found Redemption Through Art

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Decorating his workspace with eerie skulls and jack-o-lanterns for Halloween, Bill Carpenter, an artist at RHD’s Outside the Lines (OTL) Studio, greets visitors with a warm welcome and eagerness to show his impressive pieces of art to anyone willing to pay attention. Upon meeting the varied and prolific artist, one quickly becomes mesmerized by Bill’s infectious personality and candid honesty. He isn’t bashful about talking about his art or challenging childhood, marked by abuse and an alcoholic mother. Born with a developmental disability, combined with his tumultuous upbringing, Bill was not poised for achieving success as an adult. That all changed when he joined OTL.

Bill spent most of his life battling depression, anxiety, and experiencing an overall feeling of not fitting in. He desperately needed a creative outlet and a place he could escape to. In January of 2020, his case worker suggested he give a day arts program named “Outside the Lines Studio” a try, and Bill jumped on the opportunity. Within his first week, he instantly felt “at home” with the staff and other program participants. Bill shared, “I love the staff. They are really helpful. They are supportive and help me get everything I need. I love everything about this place.”

Just when Bill was starting to thrive in his new environment, COVID-19 came crashing into his life, forcing him to join sessions online for several months until he could continue visiting the studio again in person. As soon as it re-opened, Bill was eager to pick up where he left off! From a person who just dabbled in art prior to OTL, he now excels as a serious abstract artist. He participates in art shows across New England, gaining recognition and notoriety along the way. Bill recently invited an art critic to review his work, showcasing how far he’s grown both personally and professionally. The idea that something good could have come from the pandemic seems unimaginable for many, but for Bill, that was his reality.

Since Bill joined OTL, his outlook on life has shifted dramatically. He looks forward to coming into the studio, even requesting more days to attend, and to what the future holds for him. In addition to creating new masterpieces, Bill wants to write a book chronicling his life before and after joining OTL. Despite not starting it yet, he already has a name picked out for his book, “From Heaven to Hell.” He chose this title because he feels it accurately describes his childhood (Hell), enduring many acts of verbal and physical abuse, to “Heaven” in his new life as a participant at Outside the Lines Studio. Understanding the impact this program has had on Bill’s life and the renewed sense of purpose he has now, it’s impossible not to admire the quality-of-life RHD’s programs, like OTL, give to participants every day.

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