Angels of Addiction Exhibit Tells Story Of Lives Lost To Opioid Crisis

By Victoria Kim 10/16/18

“When you see these faces you will cry because we’ve lost all of these people," says artist Anne Marie Zanfagna.

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Angels of Addiction exhibit
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Last week, about 130 faces of lives lost to drugs graced the rotunda of of the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. The brightly-colored paintings are part of a series called Angels of Addiction by Anne Marie Zanfagna, a New Hampshire mother who lost her daughter Jacqueline to heroin in 2014.

After finding comfort in painting Jacqueline, Zanfagna has since made it her calling to create portraits for others grieving like her. Her paintings are free of charge, funded through her nonprofit Angels of Addiction that collects donations for art supplies.

“It is a work of love. I know how people feel when they receive these, and that warms my heart,” said Zanfagna, according to the Concord Monitor. “If I can do something to help someone else, I’ll do it. It’s my way of giving back.”

In 2017, there were 483 confirmed drug overdose deaths in New Hampshire, according to the state Medical Examiner’s Office. Fentanyl was involved in more than 350 of these deaths.

“You hear the numbers and you know it is a lot, but when you try to translate that into lives, it’s different,” said Zanfagna. “When you see these faces you will cry because we’ve lost all of these people.”

Zanfagna first showed her paintings in the New Hampshire State Library in August 2017. “When I saw all 90 together it was very powerful,” she said at the time. “It struck me that every one of those beautiful people are dead.”

Since then, she’s painted more than 150 portraits, and her exhibit has graced the walls of town halls, libraries and recovery centers.

Last week, her paintings went up in the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., after the artist was invited to show her work there by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.

“To see them, it reminds you that the opioid epidemic that we’re facing isn’t about numbers and statistics. It’s about real people. This is something that can happen to anybody,” said Shaheen.

“Each of these portraits tells a story, and the Angels of Addictions exhibit reminds us who we are fighting for as Congress takes steps to address this crisis.”

Ultimately the series is about putting faces to lives lost, and capturing the joy that each individual brought to their loved ones. “I think the people in my exhibit need this recognition because they were all good people,” said Zanfagna.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr

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