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A new podcast about art and mental health – Delta-Optimist



A group of local volunteers has recently released Art Heals, a new podcast about arts and mental health, and the people who create to heal.

When the team — led by multi-instrumentalist and music producer Earle Peach — got together a year ago to start planning, they had no idea how timely a mental health podcast would be in 2020.

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“I think Art Heals is most relevant during the pandemic because people are more isolated than ever before,” says podcast host Elaine Joe, who’s also a musician, composer, and mental health consumer. “The problem with isolation is it creates loneliness, and loneliness creates depression. That can lead people to not reach out, and hurt themselves, or wait too long to reach out, and hurt others.”

The podcast highlights artists and creative initiatives where arts and mental health meet. The aim is to inspire, raise awareness, reduce stigmas, and explore diverse stories of healing.

The first episode features Sarah Jickling, a Vancouver-based musician and mental health advocate who isn’t afraid to sing about her bipolar recovery or experiences with intergenerational trauma. She talks about her newest record, The Family Curse, released almost exactly a year ago, which was instrumental to her healing. In the second episode, you’ll meet Alaric Posey, a local composer and music teacher. He’s also the assistant conductor and manager of the Highs & Lows — a low-barrier choir that promotes wellness for people with mental health challenges.

Art Heals provides inspirational stories from people who society sometimes categorizes as not being able to contribute much,” Joe says. “The first two episodes demonstrate just how much people with diverse life experiences have to offer. This podcast also helps caregivers understand mental health challenges better. So it’s a very supportive and accessible way to learn about mental health through the creative arts.”

Listen to Art Heals on your favourite podcast streaming platform, or on the Art Heals Podbean page:

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Mother-daughter art show explores grief around pregnancy loss and infertility –



A mother-daughter art show at the Guild in Charlottetown explores the grief around pregnancy loss and infertility, to find healing, but also to help others.

“We chose Metamorphosis because this whole exhibit is about transformation,” said Jennie Thompson.

“The transformation you experience when you’re going through grief, when you’re experiencing miscarriages and what that looks like, and how it can change you as a person.”

Jennie uses watercolour paintings for the exhibit, while her mother, Elaine, creates felted pieces out of wool and silk. 

Jennie Thompson says the painting called My Grief represents the heaviness that she felt as she was going through pregnancy losses and experiencing depression. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

“I wanted to do it with my mom because at its core, a lot of this art is about, for me anyway, about being a mother, that journey toward motherhood,” Jennie said.

“Plus, it’s a really personal topic and I’m really vulnerable so mom adds that extra support for me.”

Jennie Thompson says art for her is part of the healing process. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

This is Jennie’s first art show, a challenge she said she took on to help her heal after four pregnancy losses since 2016.

“This exhibit, it wasn’t just for me, but also for other people who are going through the same thing, because it can be such an isolating experience,” she said.

“For somebody to come down here and see it in colour, on walls, I think is a really powerful statement and it’s just a way to let other people know they’re not alone, and it does suck.”

Jennie Thompson calls this painting The Cycle and writes: ‘Grief during a fertility journey is like a cycle. You hope, you experience loss. Repeat.’ (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

Supporting other women

Jennie is part of the P.E.I. Fertility/Infertility Support Group on Facebook and hopes to start offering virtual peer-support meetings.

“It’s pretty powerful, it’s really vulnerable, when this journey first started for me, I wouldn’t talk about it to anyone,” she said.

“But the other part of it was, there is this stigma around pregnancy loss. We’re not supposed to tell people we’re pregnant until we’re three months in, so think of how isolating that is.”

Elaine Thompson says Mother Earth has her hands holding the earth, which is her way of telling her daughter that she also is not alone. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

She said she hopes to let other women know that there are people they can talk to.

“For women who lose their pregnancy that they had hoped so much for, after eight weeks, nine weeks, they feel like they can’t tell anyone about it. So this is my way of saying, you absolutely can,” she said. 

“When you do feel ready to have people come to you and say, ‘That happened to me too,’ you find out that you’re not alone.”

Jennie Thompson, right, says doing the exhibit with her mother gave her some much-needed support. (Submitted by Jennie Thompson )

“It’s such a common, unfortunate experience for a lot of women,” Thompson said.

“I think it’s just really important to break down that stigma, and that barrier for women.” 

‘Extremely proud’

Elaine said she feels extremely proud to be doing the art exhibit with her daughter. 

“She knows that being able to speak about this, and share it with other people, that she’s not only trying to help herself, but she’s trying to help others,” Jennie said.

“I could not be more proud of her, and the fact that she asked me to be part of it, that just gives me chills to my toes.”

Elaine Thompson created the felted wool butterflies in honour of her mother who has passed away. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

Jennie echoed her mother’s feelings. 

“I feel really proud, and I feel really proud to have done it with my mom,” she said.

“I think this is an amazing memory that we will have forever.”

Jennie Thompson says she didn’t want the exhibit to just be sad but also hopes it will be inspirational. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

The exhibit continues until Dec. 5 at the Guild in Charlottetown. 

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Hariri Pontarini To Design Art Gallery of York University – Urban Toronto



Hariri Pontarini Architects (HPA) have been selected to design a new, stand-alone art gallery at York University. The new building will become a centrepiece at the Keele Campus, building upon the rich history of the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU), and magnifying its reach into the local community and the world beyond.

Rendering of the winning design. Image courtesy of Hariri Pontarini Architects.

Boasting a contemporary, contextual design with the firm’s signature curves, HPA’s proposal stood out in the online design competition which saw a wide show of interest from strong contenders in the architectural community. Moriyama and Teshima Architects and gh3 were also on the shortlist. All three firms have received Governor General’s Medals in Architecture.

The new building will be located at the heart of the School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design, adjacent to the Harry W. Arthurs Common, steps from the subway station. The three-storey building will highlight contemporary and historic art and include a ground level event space with four separate gallery spaces set within a xeriscape garden.

AGYU’s collection currently contains 1,700 works including…

  • prominent donations of works by Norval Morrisseau and Andy Warhol
  • 200 prints and sculptures by renowned and influential Inuit artists including Kenojuak Ashevek and Kananginak Pootoogook
  • paradigmatic work by Canadian “Automatistes” Jean-Paul Riopelle and Paul-Emile Borduas
  • American Modernists such as Helen Frankenthaler and Kenneth Noland
  • RISE, an internationally acclaimed film by Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca, featuring performances from some of Toronto’s most influential spoken word and rap artists.

Aerial: The new building will sit at the heart of York Keele Campus’ School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design, adjacent to the Harry W. Arthurs Common, between the Accolade East Building and the Centre for Film & Theatre. Image courtesy of Googlemaps.

Founding Partner Siamak Hariri cites his excitement to help reimagine the AGYU’s future, “To signify this transformation, we were inspired by metaphor and nature. Like a butterfly, each of the five wings of the new gallery extend their reach out to the campus and of course beyond. Responding to the AGYU’s aspiration to expand the social and civic role of the gallery, the building will have a powerful presence, a new presence, embracing the full University Common, and welcoming and attracting visitors to all the wonder it has to offer.”

The AGYU opened in 1988 and moved into its current 3,000 ft² in 2006. The new building, combined with the AGYU’s existing space, will form a unified art institution and an important hub for artistic engagement. “The new design reflects our vision of an accessible and collaborative art gallery that serves as a space for creation, exhibition and appreciation of diverse art and culture,” says President & Vice- Chancellor Rhonda Lenton.

Philanthropists and art collectors Joan and Martin Goldfarb donated $5 million towards the gallery, kicking off this expansion and flagging the importance of the arts on campus. The eponymous Joan and Martin Goldfarb Gallery will honour the Goldfarb’s long history of supporting the arts at York University.

Rendering of the winning design, aerial view from across the Harry W. Arthurs Common. Image courtesy of Hariri Pontarini Architects.

With this win, HPA adds to its notable cultural and institutional portfolio, which includes the recently opened Tom Patterson Theatre in Stratford, and the internationally award-winning Bahá’í Temple of South America.

You can learn more from our Database file for the project, linked below. If you’d like to, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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UrbanToronto has a new way you can track projects through the planning process on a daily basis. Sign up for a free trial of our New Development Insider here.

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Province puts up $100K to get more art into public places on P.E.I. –



The province has set aside $100,000 over the next two years to develop a public art policy for the province.

Michelle MacCallum, director of cultural development with Innovation PEI, says it will enable the province to commission and acquire public art for government sites such as hospitals, schools and parks.

“I love seeing artwork all over our province,” she said.  

“I think about how much it delights and engages and sometimes challenges people when they come upon public art.”

Different than art bank

MacCallum said it will also be another opportunity for Island artists to display their work and earn money from it.

She said it will be different from the provincial art bank.

“This is more specific to sites. So if we were building a new school or some kind of provincial government office building, if you think about it, the building in and of itself is a public entity. But there’s nothing, there’s no art around it. It doesn’t say anything about it, about the people that use it, about what it’s for,” MacCallum said.

“So public art is there to augment the site specifically rather than just acquiring a catalog of the best of art, which is what the art bank does.”

Selected by jury

MacCallum said they will consult with architects and developers of potential sites, then put out request for proposals. The art will be selected by a jury.

She said there are a few sites being considered, but it’s too soon to disclose the locations.

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