The Penticton Art Gallery is proud to once again partner with the South Okanagan Mental Health and Addictions Coalition and theBC Schizophrenia Society in presenting this touching and profound exhibition which explores the complex and often misunderstood world of those who suffer from mental illness. The exhibition aims to promote a greater understanding of those in our community who experience and wrestle with mental illness and/or psychological trauma and to foster an appreciation of their creativity through the ethical presentation of their original works of art.
The experience of mental illness is one of the most profound, disturbing and often misunderstood of all human conditions. It can be both difficult to comprehend and hard to describe. Sometimes a person has to find creative forms other than words to express it and often this creativity can lead to greater understanding. Art works like these speak to us emotionally, cognitively and perhaps most importantly, with compassion. Psychiatric crisis is not a new phenomenon, nor a new subject for artists. Indeed, there is a long and distinguished history of artists from Albrecht Dürer to Francis Bacon who have explored the issue. However, there is something especially compelling about the autobiographical experience, and that is an aspect that is prominent in the current exhibition. The artists represented in this exhibition all have or have had a personal relationship with mental illness. Some works directly refer to this, some act as a catharsis and release of emotion. Still others do not directly refer to mental illness, but rather showcase the talent and expressiveness of the individual.
As viewers we are invited into the experience of the artist. We are privileged to witness the personal expression. We can catch glimpses of a perspective on the world that can both illuminate the experience of another, and cause us to reflect on our own. Art, in this way, allows us to enter into an empathetic relationship with the world of the artist, but be willing to learn more about ourselves. It can work to combat stigma and stereotypes, it can help to validate the individual, it can contribute to community understanding and connectiveness.
Thank you to all the participating artists for providing us with a window into your lives and to Valerie Wood and Sharon Evans for your help and belief in the project, we could not have done this with out your belief and trust. The exhibition coincides with Mental Health Illness Week from September 30 – October 6, 2012. For further information on the week’s programme or for information about mental illness, please access the following websites:
Penticton and Area Cooperative Enterpriseshttp://www.pacecoop.ca/
BC Schizophrenia Society http://www.bcss.org/
Mental Illness Awareness Week http://www.miaw.ca/en/default.aspx.