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Students explore art themes in Re/LAUNCH/ing, vol. 2 – St. Albert TODAY

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With school back in session, a new collaborative art project has been launched.

Re/LAUNCH/ing is aimed at hitting the same high notes that its predecessor with.draw.all did, but with the added emphasis on the intrinsic value of art to the artist.

Each month, StAlbertTODAY.ca will be displaying an online gallery of art created by high school students. October’s rendition features 12 creations from students at Paul Kane, Bellrose and St. Albert Catholic High.

Artist: Kara Forseille
Grade 12
Coloured pencil
Title: Simple life
Artist Statement: “As I learn new techniques and skills in art class, I find it very fun and exciting to keep creating. Working with pencil crayons was challenging. I needed to be my most patient and resilient self. The purpose behind this piece was to remind me of my childhood, and the girl I drew looks similar to how I looked when I was younger. I miss when my life was simple and carefree, and this drawing took me back to those times.”
TyriaPuszkarArtist: Tyria Puszkar
Grade 12
Acrylic paint
Title: A moment
Artist Statement: “My intent behind this painting was to create a piece of my favourite picture that I took of a very important person in my life. A person who always brings me joy: my best friend. I’ve been creating art my entire life at home as well as at school, every semester since my Grade 10 year. I’ve always been very passionate about art, specifically drawing. I plan to pursue art after high school by seeking a tattoo apprenticeship. I’ve wanted to be a tattoo artist for as long as I can remember and with the skills that I have acquired from my many art teachers, I believe that one day I will be able to achieve my dream.”
AlyshaCampbellArtist: Alysha Campbell
Grade 12
Mixed medium
Title: Singer
Artist Statement: “This piece was created because of my love for the past, previous decades of fashion and sewing. Alongside creating art pieces, I enjoy sewing and creating garments as well as studying the history of fashion which is what inspired me to create this piece.”
Brandi MacialekArtist: Brandi Macialek
Grade 12
Watercolour
Title: Parallels
Artist Statement: “Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create.” – Jana Kingsford
Grace Bobinski 2Artist: Grace Bobinski
Grade 12
Watercolour
Title: Vacant Spaces
Artist Statement: “Are you busy filling up spaces, or leaving room for what’s to come?”
Kensey YaremchukArtist: Kensey Yaremchuk
Grade 11
Charcoal and white conte
Title: Know Your Worth
Artist Statement: “What’s meant for you will end up good, and what’s not – won’t.”
Noella MartynArtist: Noella Martyn
Grade 10
India Ink
Title: Untitled
Artist Statement: “The moon has awoken with the sun, the light has been broken; the spell has begun.”
Aicha BahArtist: Aicha Bah
Grade 10
Watercolour
Title: Back Alley
Artist Statement: “This painting is referenced by a photo I took earlier in the morning of the alleyway behind my house. It is usually really bland-looking.”
Mika ChuaArtist: Mika Chua
Grade 10
Watercolour
Title: Street Corner
Artist Statement: “This piece helped me start painting with watercolours again. I’m very grateful for that. I was very rusty in terms of my skill and technique but the painting process definitely taught me a lot of things.”
Layal El-MaadawyArtist: Layal El-Maadawy
Grade 10
Watercolour
Title: Brick Wall
Artist Statement: “This painting is my take on something out of the ordinary. I decided to paint a wall in my school in different colours than what it actually is.”
Stella ToshackArtist: Stella Toshack
Grade 11
Watercolour
Title: The Halls of PK
Artist Statement: “In this piece I wanted to take a very mundane part of the school and make it into something distinctive from what it was before. The change of angle added a bizarre sense to it all and the vast difference of colour used gave it a sense of wonder. Something quite ordinary can become something strangely beautiful when your own creativity is added to it.”
SabrinaDizyArtist: Sabrina Dizy
Grade 10
Soft pastel
Title: Crimson Viper
Artist Statement: “I made this because of how mysterious snakes are. I wanted to create a piece where I would be challenged, therefore when I saw a picture of this particular snake, I just had to do it. As I made this piece, it required a lot of fine details, which enabled me to be a problem-solver and helped me reach my goal.”

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Just Art auction for Iranian refugee family an opportunity to give 'a gift with meaning' – TheSpec.com

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A family of recently arrived refugees from Iran is learning that art is vitally important to any new home, not because something is needed to go on the walls but because, in their case, art in a sense “is” the walls.

Art will help put a roof over their heads and shelter around their sides and keep them warm through a cold Canadian winter.

The people in this city who paint and create and sculpt and so forth are artists because of the way they see and are they ever seeing this holiday season, seeing to the needs, those critical first-year needs, that refugee families find themselves facing as they adjust to a new life. Housing, health care, language classes to name a few.

So the Just Art online art auction that starts Friday, Dec. 4, could not come at a better time for an Iranian family of three — a mother and her two grown daughters who have arrived since September, after waiting five years in Turkey, and were among the first refugees allowed into Canada after a six-month suspension of immigration resulting from the pandemic.

“Guide and Lights” by Mike Kukucska.Mike C Kukucska

The impetus for the auction was, interestingly, furnished by an artist, Rachel Hawkes Cameron, who was in the process of leaving Hamilton as the new family was arriving, almost as tough they were passing each other on opposite ways through the door.

Hawkes Cameron did not want to leave without contributing to the fundraising part of a larger effort she had wanted to help with, the sponsorship of the family by a team of volunteers connected with St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church on Locke Street (a team from the church had already sponsored a Syrian family earlier this decade).

But how do you fund-raise during a pandemic? This, says sponsorship committee volunteer Sarah Wayland, was the frustrating riddle.

"Full Moon and Waves" by E. Robert Ross.
“Full Moon and Waves” by E. Robert Ross.E. Robert Ross

“So many small businesses are tapped out,” she says. “We decided to focus on the art.”

It was Hawkes Cameron who donated an abstract painting of her in the absence of anything else she could give and that started a great momentum.

Now more than 40 Hamilton area artists, both established and emerging, have contributed almost 60 pieces, in a wide variety of price ranges, to the online auction that will run from Friday to Dec. 10.

Some of those featured are Sylvia Simpson, E. Robert Ross, Tom Wilson, Lee Munn, Sandee Ewasiuk and Gordon Leverton.

Once the call went out, especially through the Kirkendall neighbourhood hub Facebook page, the creators stepped up.

"Looking on the Brighter Side" by Lee Munn
“Looking on the Brighter Side” by Lee MunnLee Munn

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“Just Art resonated significantly with me, as my art subjects are homes, and I attempt to capture the beauty of the home in the community they serve. I’m proud to participate, knowing that all proceeds will support this refugee family of three women settle in our community,” said Hamilton painter Gordon Leverton.

The public is invited to bid on works between those dates, Dec. 4 and Dec. 10, by visiting justart.rockonlocke.ca.

Wayland says that the team conservatively estimates that the family’s first year costs will be $46,000.

“Rents alone — they’ve really gone up (in Hamilton),” says Wayland.

“This is an opportunity to give gifts with meaning.”

Cannisters by Louise McCann
Cannisters by Louise McCannLouise McCann

Jeff Mahoney

Jeff Mahoney is a Hamilton-based reporter and columnist covering culture and lifestyle stories, commentary and humour for The Spectator. Reach him via email: jmahoney@thespec.com

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Pandemic blues? Online art therapy might help you work through your feelings – CBC.ca

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It doesn’t matter where they are in the world. Most of Michelle Winkel’s patients are struggling with the exact same thing right now, and that’s anxiety.

“It was a significant problem before the pandemic,” says Winkel, clinical supervisor at the Virtual Art Therapy Clinic and co-founder of the Canadian Institute for Art Therapy (CIIT) in Victoria. (In fact, anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental health issues period, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.) But recently, says Winkel, the problem “has absolutely magnified” at the clinic, and the reason should be as plain as the three-ply reusable mask on your face. 

COVID’s impact on mental health is occasionally discussed as a sort of shadowy bonus pandemic, hitting everyone differently — but affecting everyone, just the same. In May, a crowdsourced study from Statistics Canada reported that 88 per cent of respondents had experienced anxiety symptoms — things like “feeling nervous, anxious or on edge” — sometime in the two weeks before they were polled. And nearly a quarter said they had “fair or poor mental health.” (Compare that to a similar survey from two years prior: back then, a mere 8 per cent were feeling similarly meh.) 

“Obviously with COVID, life is pretty stressful,” says Winkel. Since April, her online clinic has provided support to patients working through their anxiety or depression or stress. And it’s one of several virtual resources that offers a space to heal through art.

So … art therapy? What does that mean exactly? 

“I believe that art-making is therapeutic,” says Winkel. But there’s a distinction between chilling at home with pack of Crayolas and engaging in art therapy. Per the textbook definition on the Canadian Art Therapy Association (CATA) website, the practice mixes psychotherapy with art-making. (“Using imagery, colour and shape as part of this creative process,” they say, “thoughts and feelings can be expressed that would otherwise be difficult to articulate.”) And it’s facilitated by a certified art therapist, someone trained in the field at a graduate level.

“Usually clients come because of a pain point,” says Winkel. “We may use some art-making to explore that.”

Absolutely no experience is required. “They do not need to be artists or feel artistic at all,” says Winkel. And during a session, the art therapist might guide a creative exercise. It’s not always about making a picture or a painting, she explains. A common prompt might be something like: “Show me what you’re struggling with.” 

“Let’s say it’s a feeling of anxiety. Well, you could choose an animal that feels like that. Express it in some kind of image.”

By making art, and reflecting on the process, the patient is working to get a better handle on what they’re experiencing. “For a lot of folks these days, it’s about communicating with themselves first,” says Winkel. “How can I tolerate the anxiety of this scary, scary stuff that’s going on in a way that’s a little bit healthier for me?” Insight can change how they’re able to negotiate those feelings going forward. And the art therapist’s there to guide the process.

“Having someone there to facilitate, to develop a safe and trusting environment to be able to make art is the healing piece, we think.”

Michelle Winkel (left), clinical and academic director of the Canadian Institute for Art Therapy and clinical supervisor for The Virtual Art Therapy Clinic. (Cheryl-Ann Webster)

Is online therapy the right fit?

Art therapy has a variety of applications, but sticking to the example of what Winkel and her team are doing at the Virtual Art Therapy Clinic, she says most of their participants face she calls “daily challenges in living.” They aren’t arriving with a doctor’s diagnosis, but maybe they’ve been feeling anxious or low or isolated. (The website encourages folks in crisis to seek other treatment.) “It can be as simple and humble as that they’re feeling a bit stressed and they’d like a few sessions to explore stress management. And that would be a very suitable thing to deal with in art therapy.” 

The clinic’s sessions are open to both adults and children, and they’re led over Zoom by senior students at CIIT. (So, special art materials aren’t required, but a working webcam is.) Before the first appointment’s booked, participants go through a free “meet and greet” assessment. They get to talk about their needs and ask any questions they might have. The sessions themselves are offered on a pay-what-you-can model, starting at $10. Continuing with further sessions is up to the participant. “We have many who just come for a handful, get what they need, and then stop,” says Winkel.

OK, so where else are people doing it?

The Virtual Art Therapy Clinic is, of course, just one option. To find an individual therapist offering virtual sessions, Winkel recommends searching directories like the one on the CATA website. Or, you could try something altogether different, like an online Art Hive

An Art Hive?

Yep. They’re a network of community art studios that welcome folks of all ages and abilities. The concept originated at Concordia University in Montreal, which runs multiple Art Hives through its campus — and in the Before Times, these spaces would welcome anybody and everybody to gather and create (using a stash of free materials). Since March 20, the Concordia chapters have been hosting meet-ups on Zoom, and at least 21 Canadian Art Hives are currently active online. Some focus on visual art-making. At Concordia, they also run regular Art Hives for music and movement. And while these sessions aren’t necessarily presided over by a certified art therapist, Rachel Chainey, national network coordinator for Art Hives Network, says that the project’s guiding philosophy is “rooted in art therapy.” 

Each session has a facilitator, she says, who’s there to make everyone feel welcome and free to create. “The Art Hive seeks to bring people together around a common idea, which is creativity and art-making,” she says. “Importantly, in terms of mental health, it creates a safety net. People often, you know — not everyone will go to therapy. And not everyone has access to individual therapy or even group therapy, whether for financial reasons, whether it’s for cultural reasons. The Art Hive forms a community around a person. […] There will be a community of people checking on them.”

Some pre-pandemic art-making at the Canadian International Institute of Art Therapy. (Cheryl-Ann Webster)

What do people get out of it?

Marguerite Dorion, 76, is a recent Art Hive convert. Pre-pandemic, she was aware of the IRL locations in Montreal, but as a busy YMCA volunteer, she never really took part. Now? “My gosh, it’s nearly my whole day,” she says, and because the programming’s online, she’s been exploring Art Hives beyond the city. “It’s very casual, very welcoming,” she says, and of all the things she loves about the experience — including the joy of painting and learning new things — it’s the community aspect that’s most important to her. “In French we call it ‘en réseau,’ which means a link between many people.”

Making art with a group, albeit over Zoom, felt novel to Alexandra O. Carlsson when she joined her first Art Hive. But week over week, she says, “you start to recognize faces, and almost feel a kind of camaraderie.” A 33-year-old occupational therapist from Kingston, Ont., Carlsson takes part in a virtual session run through the Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queen’s University. At first, she was there out of professional curiosity. “But I slowly realized that it was actually very therapeutic for myself,” says Carlsson. “Every time I finished Art Hive I was like, ‘Wow, that was something that I did today that I didn’t even know I needed.’ Self-care is such a trendy term, but it felt like such a wonderful creative outlet for myself. And it really helped me decompress after a busy day.”

“People there, they break their social isolation,” says Chainey of Art Hives. “They find a place of belonging. It helps them find meaning. Often creativity is connected to finding purpose, meaning, self worth, feeling proud of oneself. So these are all things that contribute to enhanced well-being.”

That last Art Hive … it’s run by a museum?

Yes, some museums host virtual Art Hives, too. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, for example, is developing its own online version, and Stephen Legari, the museum’s program officer for art therapy, says it should be live in the next few weeks. It’ll be the closest facsimile to dropping in on the MMFA’s real-life Art Hive — the only one of its kind in a museum. It is, of course, closed due to COVID-19, but pre-pandemic, people were free to make arts and crafts with support from on-site educators and art therapists. Legari says 2,500-3,000 visitors made use of the studio each year. 

And beyond plans for that aforementioned virtual meet-up, there are other resources available on the MMFA’s website. In the spring, Legari produced a bunch of short videos that lead the viewer through different art-therapy exercises inspired by pieces from the museum’s collection. More are in the works, he says, and they should arrive in the New Year. 

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But are any of these online options a substitute for the IRL thing?

Both have their pros and cons. There are the obvious practical challenges: technology opens these services to people living anywhere, but there are still folks who get left behind. Some people struggle with computer literacy. Others can’t afford the right hardware. And beyond all that, maybe Zoom just isn’t your thing.

Since May, Winkel’s been studying the effectiveness of online art therapy, specifically as it pertains to treating anxiety. Nine therapists have been following 36 clients at the Virtual Art Therapy Clinic. At the beginning and end of each session, these patients are asked to rate their anxiety on a scale of zero to 10, and going off her findings so far, virtual sessions have merit. “What we’re noticing is about a 38 per cent improvement from the beginning of the session to the end,” she says. “So, it’s a very sizeable improvement, meaning that the clients feel a lot less anxious at the end, even if they spend one hour working with someone.” The research, however, is still ongoing.

Chainey acknowledges there are some things that are missing from the virtual experience, especially when it comes to her real-life Art Hive venues — community hubs that are crammed with craft materials and artwork. “It’s such a rich environment, so nourishing for people’s creativity,” she says. “You cannot replicate that online, however hard you try.” But the fundamental spirit is still there.

“I notice that often people attend an Art Hive because they want to feel seen by others. That’s why they choose to come instead of creating in isolation,” she says.

“I think that this sense of feeling connected, supported, seen […] that happens online.”

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ARTS AROUND: Rollin Art Centre lights up for Christmas – Alberni Valley News

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MELISSA MARTIN

SPECIAL TO THE NEWS

Christmas at the Rollin Art Centre is happening now until Dec. 23.

Come and stroll the magically lit gardens, then pop upstairs to the gallery (with COVID-19 safety protocols in place) and visit Mistletoe Market, where you will find hundreds of gift items for all your shopping needs.

The number of guests will be limited to four people. Guests must wear a mask and hand sanitize at the entrance.

All locally made, the market is a showcase of local artists, artisans and crafters. You will find something for everyone on your list: pottery, jewellery, scarves, photographs, original paintings, glass works, quilted stockings, holiday cards, ornaments and much more!

We are open late every Friday (11 a.m. to 8 p.m.). The gallery is located at the corner of Argyle Street and Eighth Avennue. We are also wheelchair accessible.

MEMBERSHIP APPRECIATION DAYS

The Community Arts Council is holding its annual members appreciation days with two days of savings! If you are a current member, join us in the gallery on Friday, Dec. 4 (open late from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.) and Saturday, Dec. 5 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) to receive 20 percent off all items in the gift shop and gallery, excluding ticket sales.

This is also a great time to renew your 2021 membership—don’t forget!

MYSTERY BAG OF BOOKS

Surprise! For just $20 you will get 10 books in one bag, all in the same genre!

By purchasing a bag of books, you will also be helping the Rollin Art Centre during this difficult time! Choose from Christmas novels, crafts, DIY books, fiction, travel, gardening, cooking, home improvements, art, spiritual, romance, fantasy, mystery, pre-teen chapter books (e.g. Nancy Drew), children’s books and so much more.

These make great Christmas gifts! Bags are now available at the Rollin Art Centre. Get yours now because they sell out fast! Your support for the Rollin Art Centre is greatly needed and much appreciated.

ARTIST AND STUDIO GUIDE

The Community Arts Council is designing a new Alberni Valley artist and studio guide. If you are interested in being included in this brochure/guide, please call the Rollin Art Centre for more information at 250-724-3412.

The guide will include local artists and a map. Five thousand guides will be printed and distributed to the tourist information centre and local hot spots. The extended deadline is Jan. 31, 2021.

Melissa Martin is the Arts Administrator for the Community Arts Council, at the Rollin Art Centre and writes for the Alberni Valley News. Call 250-724-3412. Email: communityarts@shaw.ca.

ArtChristmasPort Alberni

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