The power of art as a therapeutic activity benefiting the mental health of individuals and communities is being showcased at the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Vernon and District 17th Annual Awakening the Spirit Art Show and Sale at the Vernon Community Arts Centre.
More than 20 works are featured including photography, acrylic, pen and ink, and watercolour. Artwork on display is from those living with mental illness who have used art to positively improve their mental health.
“Through art and creativity, we hope to break down some of the barriers and stigma surrounding mental health and mental illness,” said Julia Payson, CMHA Vernon Executive Director. “The show celebrates the creative talents of community members living with mental illness and mental health challenges, who use art to improve their mental health.”
For the past two decades, CMHA volunteer Christine Schmidt has been using art to help her express herself and practice self-care.
“My mother is very artistic; I would always do things with her,” said Schmidt. “In 2000, I took a watercolour class and really got into it.”
Schmidt says she enjoys the discovery of making art.
“It keeps the creative juices going, connects me to nature, and is a way of expressing emotion,” said Schmidt, who has been contributing to the show and volunteering for the CMHA Georgette Thrift Shop for three years.
Schmidt said that prior to COVID restrictions, art was also a valuable community activity to share with others at CMHA.
During restrictions at the beginning of the pandemic, Schmidt spent her time walking, doing photography, cooking, baking, meditating with Insight Timer, and connecting with others over the phone.
She dedicated herself to drawing a picture every day for six weeks.
“It was neat to have a focus, to have something on the go during that time to commit to,” said Schmidt. “I decided to stay calm and collected when BC launched its COVID-19 measures.”
Schmidt also decided to create an art calendar.
“My plan was to take a photo for inspiration and do a drawing each day of the month,” she said. “My unused 2014 desktop calendar was easy to adapt for this project.”
The piece has been submitted to the art show and is available for sale.
The Vernon Community Arts Centre, located at 2704A Highway 6, has generously donated its gallery for the show. The Art Sale and Show runs until Friday, Aug. 17, Monday to Wednesday: 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Thursday to Saturday: 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Daily closures take place from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. for sanitizing.
Due to COVID-19, the show and sale is also being featured online at https://trellis.org/awakeningthespiritartshowandsale.