Ohio artists’ works reflect on suicide, mental health as part of inaugural fundraiser

The Columbus Dispatch


Amid the worst months of her husband’s rapid mental health decline, Julie Leonard recalls waking up most mornings thinking one thing: “What fresh hell awaits?”

It was a time marked by uncertainty and anguish, the potential for tragedy looming each day until the proverbial bomb Leonard had long dreaded went off. Her husband, Steve, died by suicide in 2008 at the age of 40, leaving Leonard and the couple’s three young children in Cincinnati left to pick up the pieces of their family’s shattered life.

Now, those four words Leonard contemplated daily — ”What fresh hell awaits?” — serve as the title of the first of three ceramic art pieces she created to reflect on the final days of her husband’s life, and the journey of grief it set her upon. Beginning with the depiction of a grenade, the series ends on a more-hopeful note now that Leonard has transformed that pain into a powerful artistic statement.