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Williams Lake art show delves into mental health

Williams Lake Tribune - 3/3/2024

An art show dedicated to mental health opened with a celebration in Williams Lake Friday, Feb. 23.

Dozens of paintings and several poems lining the walls of Cariboo Art Beat studio on Oliver Street and an opportunity to learn about some of the services offered in the community for mental health.

Arianna Edwards contributed a piece titled Head in the Clouds, depicting the outline a skull with a sky and clouds inside it.

"It's about having stress and imagining thing and trying to escape."

Cariboo Art Beat offers art classes and Arianna said she attends the studio every Thursday and has been for a few years.

Anika Deboer also had half a dozen pieces in the show and chose one titled Alas-Dissociation to be photographed beside.

"It's about that feeling of not being in your own body and living in your mind," Anika explained. "About watching almost from the outside."

Artists Tiffany Jorgensen, Sarah Sigurdson and Brittany Murphy are the masterminds behind Cariboo Art Beat and all had pieces in the show.

Murphy said her piece, the stay at home mom, was created during COVID when everyone was stuck at home.

"I love my kids, but there were moments that I wish I could actually scream like this," she explained. "It was stifling period in time for families and kids but for some stay-at-home moms it only deepened the isolation. It was the inner turmoil."

Her charcoal drawing depicts the face of a woman screaming and by paying attention to the fine details of the piece she was able to channel her frustrations and express them on paper while still holding her emotions together in reality for her family, she recalled.

Jorgensen and Sigurdson also contributed several poems. One of Jorgensen's was about ADHD and one of Sigurdson's was about trading places with her teenage self.

The art opening was also a fundraiser for Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Cariboo Chilcotin Branch and featured live music by the Springhouse Trio and guest singer Donna Lee.

"We are keenly aware of the compound negative impacts that suffering in silence and not seeking treatment for mental health disorders can have on individuals in communities," said CMHA executive director Tereena Donahue.

She said barriers such as misinformation, fear, stigma, lack of affordable of timely access to services continue to pose significant challenges.

"Thank you all for coming out and doing your part to make meaningful change. There is still a lot of work to be done but your presence here tonight and your contribution to this cause is what enables us to do our vital work."

Jorgensen said Cariboo Art Beat is grateful to live in a city where the sense of community is strong, where there are people who always want to show up and help people.

She encourage people to understand what is out there for mental health as it is something that needs constant care and nurturing.

"Thank you to Sheri Staal for giving us some insight into EMDR, which is a fascinating and effective process to deal with trauma."

Jorgensen said it takes a lot of courage to have your art seen, especially something you created while feeling vulnerable.

"We had 17 artists and poets contribute their work to this show. All agreed to donate 25 per cent of any sales to Canadian Mental Health."

Murphy said it is important to have conversations about mental health.

"I love that there are other community members stepping forward and putting themselves out there through their art. You never know who you will relate with and it is just so great to be reminded that we are not alone."

While some of the artwork may be seen as sad and dark, Murphy said it's a beautifully empowering thing and a great tangible reminder of how much can be overcome.

"I hope that the show inspires others to begin processing some of the tough emotions through art. It really can be a tool for mental health."

The show will remain up until the end of next week, March 8.

It can be viewed on Tuesdays between 3:30 to 6 p.m.

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