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Emotions on canvas

When John Wolford's cousin was murdered by her boyfriend, he wrote a song about it.

Now, Wolford's song, along with the artwork and poetry of dozens of others whose lives have been touched by domestic violence, is on display for all to see at Great Northern Mall. It's part of the Survivors' Art and Poetry exhibit from Vera House's Art of Caring, a program that allows survivors and their supporters to express their emotions through art.

Wolford wrote the song, called "Enough Already," in 2005 after his cousin, Lori Ann Leonard, a 33-year-old mother of two, was murdered by her boyfriend. Shawn Doyle suffocated Leonard after she tried to break off their relationship. Her body was found two and a half months later in the Champlain Canal. Wolford said he has been involved with Vera House ever since.

"Her brother had written a song and he asked me to write one," Wolford said. "I just talked about how it has to stop."

Wolford's words join numerous paintings, drawings and more on the wall opposite the post office near Old Navy at Great Northern Mall. The artwork in the permanent display is available for sale; proceeds benefit Vera House, which runs domestic and sexual violence shelters, anger management and counseling programs.

"We're really excited to see this here," said Randi Bregman, executive director of Vera House. "We were thrilled when the mall approached us with the idea."

The idea came from Sandy Graham, marketing manager for the mall. Graham said Macerich, the company that owns the mall, has been trying to find something to do with that space for a while.

"We wanted to use this space for something community-focused," Graham said. "And we were focusing on women's organizations, because, really, women are our core customers."

Graham said she did an internet search of women's organizations in the area and discovered the Art of Caring program, which is run by Crystal LaPoint. Graham called LaPoint about doing something at the mall and the exhibit was born.

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