By Paula Ebben

WORCESTER (CBS) – They are portraits of adversity and hope, showing people with mental illness, addiction and a wide range of disabilities, but they are all more than their challenges. The portraits are part of a new exhibit in Worcester called “I am more than this.” The artist behind the portraits wants us all to look closely.

These are the faces of strength, the faces of pain and the faces of victory. It’s a unique art show at the Worcester PopUp by Gloucester artist Amy Kerr. “I am more is a project that I founded as a healing process for myself, to cope with my depression, to remind myself that I’m a lot more,” Amy said.

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Each portrait depicts a person dealing with a serious issue, post-traumatic stress, addiction, abuse, cancer, and the memories of the Holocaust. “I’m diagnosed as schizoaffective,” said Ryan, who works with people with mental illness at the Genesis Club in Worcester and is one of the portrait subjects.

Artist Amy Kerr (WBZ-TV)

Ryan and 19 others are represented here and each has written a brief essay about not only what they’re dealing with, but how they’re more than those challenges. “It means a lot,” Ryan said. “There aren’t a whole lot of people who share Amy’s vision and for her to help bring the humanity out, that’s the biggest aspect.”

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“It gives you a different focus. It gives you a healthier focus,” Amy added.

The portraits and the essays flip how people see themselves, and how others see them. “Knowing that people are seeing the parts of you that have been overshadowed, helps people understand you better,” Amy said.

Ryan, one of the subjects of the “I am more than this” exhibit in Worcester (WBZ-TV)

The exhibit just opened, and the response has been touching. “I think it’s wonderful. I think a lot of people should come down and see it because it’s very thought provoking,” said Mary Shea who visited the gallery Tuesday.

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You can see “I am more than this” at the Worcester PopUp through Nov. 7th.

Paula Ebben