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That art you see on the TTC has a message – Toronto Star

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When creating the piece “Empty,” Toronto artist Julieta Christy channelled themes of vulnerability, instability and self-destruction.

These themes, she said, perfectly encapsulate her battle with depression.

“It depicts the unexplainable emotions of how scary and helpless it can feel,” Christy said. “Because you do forget there is a world beyond depression.”

“Empty” is among 10 artworks — ranging from paintings to photographs to digital illustrations — displayed prominently across 200 posters and 375 screens on the Toronto Transit Commission subway lines until Jan. 16. The artworks, part of a project dubbed “Life on the Line,” aim to bring awareness to themes related to mental health, communicating the struggle of mental illness through visuals when words cannot convey it.

“Unlike physical illnesses that can be measured and scanned, mental health disorders don’t have the same privilege, and that further stigmatizes those who suffer,” said Megan Kee, founder of Toronto creative agency TwentyTwenty Arts, which is behind the project.

“I think art has the potential to cut across boundaries and connect us with one another’s humanity.”

Prints of artworks featured in “Life on the Line” can be purchased through TwentyTwenty Arts, with 70 per cent of proceeds going toward the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Toronto Family Outreach and Response Program, which helps families and friends who have a loved one over age 16 experiencing a mental health issue.

Gillian Gray, the manager of the program, said demand for its services has increased about 10 per cent since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March.

“Our program is pretty unique in that we fill a big gap in the mental health system,” Gray said. “For most of the families we work with, their loved one isn’t actually getting any mental health care whatsoever.”

All 10 pieces in “Life on the Line” channel complex themes of mental illnesses and the path toward acceptance and healing. In “Empty,” a golden hand cradles the face of a sombre man. For Christy, the hand represents the hope she and others struggling with depression hold on to — a hope that she wants viewers struggling with their own mental health to feel by reminding them that they are not alone.

“There are many resources and people they can talk to,” Christy said. “We are all here to listen and empathize with one another.”

Another piece, titled “Agoraphobia” by Toronto artist Seri Stinson, channels the fear of going outside and the artist’s personal journey with this form of anxiety by turning nature and flowers — commonly viewed as serene and pleasant — into something disjointed and disturbing.

“Through COVID-19, (my anxiety disorder) has become a lot more heightened, to the point where I do feel an intense form of anxiety when I do need to go outside,” Stinson said.

While this is the second instalment of the “Life on the Line” project (the first was showcased at the end of 2018), this year has brought a host of unprecedented challenges for Kee, who questioned whether the project was possible this year.

But despite the TTC’s drop in ridership, Kee said there’s no better time to spark a public, widespread conversation about mental health, as the pandemic has led to widespread isolation and loneliness, and a reckoning with inequities faced by vulnerable populations in Toronto.

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“I feel like several different social issues, including mental health, addiction and homelessness have reached a tipping point as a result of COVID,” Kee said. “We’ve seen worsening mental health, rise in the number of encampments and an unprecedented number of overdose deaths.”

The TTC itself also hit a grim record of its second-deadliest year in 2020, with 23 people dying by suicide on TTC property between January and November.

Nadine Yousif is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering mental health. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Follow her on Twitter: @nadineyousif_

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Art Fx #29: The Wilderness Collection by Stephanie Aykroyd – Huntsville Doppler

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Art Fx is a year-long series on Huntsville Doppler featuring Huntsville-area visual artists.

The Wilderness Collection is a series of original oil landscapes on canvas by Stephanie Aykroyd.

“In a remote region of Ontario, Canada, is a land filled with old-growth pine, smooth granite outcrops, and clear waters. Like most wilderness areas, it is ancient and sacred,” writes Stephanie of her inspiration for this series. “The ancestors of this land left carvings in the rock, barely visible now, but their presence is strong. They travelled this land that you’re camping on and paddling through. Perhaps they sat on the same rock overlooking this lake…

“The storm has just passed and everything feels deeply still and peaceful.

“You can smell the pine and damp earth as you watch the mist drift across the far hills and light break through the clouds. A loon calls in the distance, and you smile, knowing that you belong.”

 “Limitless” (left) and “In the Quietest Moments” are original oil paintings in Stephanie Aykroyd’s The Wilderness Collection

About the artist

I live with my love Alex, on 27 acres north of Toronto, Ontario in a beautiful part of the Canadian Shield.

Stephanie Aykroyd (Danielle Taylor Photography)

I’m happiest in my studio or outside with my hands in the garden, searching for rocks, making pigments, portaging a canoe, or paddling the remote wilderness.

Over the years I always managed to paint, but it wasn’t a regular practice. I held back from making it my career and it was usually the first thing to be shelved when life got overwhelming. Far too often I focused on others at the expense of my own creative expression. However…

I’ve always dreamed of doing my art full-time and I’m a firm believer that when we set clear intentions & do the work, amazing things unfold!

By 2020, the need to create art became too strong and too important to ignore. Why keep putting off the very thing that feeds my soul?? This is the best decision I could have made and I haven’t looked back since!

Stephanie’s work is available for purchase at stephanieaykroyd.com.

See more local art in Doppler’s Art Fx series here.

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Departures at high-profile Barcelona museum provoke anger in art world – The Guardian

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Departures at high-profile Barcelona museum provoke anger in art world  The Guardian



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Oak Bay sets aside $27,000 for Indigenous art at muncipal hall – Saanich News

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Oak Bay’s newly renovated chambers will feature a new piece of public art commissioned from an Indigenous artist.

The district allocated one per cent of the budget for the hall renovation, $7,000 to public art. Combined with the annual public art allocation, the district has $27,000 to spend on a work for municipal hall.

The move to work with a local artist, specifically from the Lekwungen speaking people on whose land Oak Bay sits, was unanimous among council members.

“This is a rare opportunity to have the resources to do that and as the renovated municipal hall reopens, have that be one of the centrepieces,” Coun. Andrew Appleton said during council discussions July 12.

Still in the earliest of stages, conversation surrounded the how of the project.

Oak Bay is between arts laureates, but liaison Coun. Hazel Braithwaite said the public arts committee is taking on that leadership role.

READ ALSO: Oak Bay artist leaves land to Victoria Native Friendship Centre

Coun. Tara Ney lamented the district’s lack of policy or set protocol for engaging in such initiatives.

She voiced a need to create pathways for engaging so it’s not done piecemeal, and instead with confidence and in culturally appropriate way.

Mayor Kevin Murdoch, who is routinely in conversation with local First Nations leadership, said the district is doing well in the absence of policy, always seeking guidance and building relationships in small ways.

Council agreed working toward something more formal is something they could pursue.

“This does require more formality and we need to start to establish those connections so we’re consistent and so we’re completely aware and sensitive to their needs,” Coun. Cairine Green said.

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READ ALSO: Greater Victoria residents invited to blessing of Indigenous mural celebrating solidarity

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