Collective Vision —The Fine Art of Health

It’s not the most likely place you’d expect to find an exhibition. On the lower level of the Peterborough Regional Health Centre is an installation of artwork from local artists whose lives have been impacted by mental illness.

Local artist Wendy Trusler is part of the team who curate this show. Her book The Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning is due to be published soon.

Behind each artist’s contribution is a personal story of mental illness or connection with a mentally ill loved one. Those stories are not shared publicly, underscoring the persistent silence around this subject which affects virtually all of us.

Mickey Renders Twilight 24x24

Mickey Renders – Finding Joy/Twilight 24″x24″

Funded through the Peterborough Foundation, a juried rotating exhibition of artwork is selected from submissions of unframed works on paper through ongoing calls to entry, then displayed  in the hallways leading to the outpatient programs. The current exhibit consists of 42 works from local artists including Kelly O’Neill, Micky Renders, and Earl O Sandwiches. In addition, a  permanent collection has been installed in the inpatient areas of the department –  Micky Renders‘ suite of blue to yellow colour field paintings entitled Finding Joy line the hallways and thoughtfully animate the space.

One in five of us will be diagnosed with a mental health problem. Mental health is the number one cause of disability in Canada, accounting for nearly 30% of disability claims and 70% of the total costs.¹  Myths and misconceptions abound in this field and the public perception that mental illness can be “fixed” is misguided – rather it is usually a chronic problem to be managed. Relapse rates for addictive diseases usually are in the range of 50% to 90% ². Despite aggressive marketing, anti-depression medication resolves the problem for as few as 30% of sufferers.

But the arts and madness have always been bedfellows. Current research links creativity and mental health and not always in negative ways.

The PRHC  has brought art into its facility before with the 2010 permanent Emerge Exhibition, which consisted of work from 40 local photographers permanently installed in the emergency department of the hospital. You can view or purchase the collection in a book here »

Initiatives like Collective Vision are a welcome addition to the medical environment. There will be future calls for submissions for the Collective Vision Rotating Gallery and a new exhibit featuring Teresa Armstrong, Lori Brand, Claire Hogenkamp, Elizabeth Infante, Lucy Manley, Melanie McCall, Sandy Scholes, Rick Strankiewcz and Olga Szaranski will be mounted in January, 2013.

Sadly, there is no art therapy program available at this time for patients at the PRHC.

¹http://www.camh.ca

²http://www.caron.org/current-statistics.html

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