A new art exhibit in Williams Lake was inspired by a local artist hoping to normalize mental health issues and nurture a better understanding of people who are working through trauma.
“I was looking at my own art at home, having a mental break down, but knowing there are other people struggling too,” said Mandee Beaulieu at the opening of the exhibit at Cariboo Art Beat, 19 First Avenue South.
“We hide from it so much and sweep it under the rug. It’s important to be able to be open about our traumas and share the way our brains work.”
When she approached Tiffany Jorgensen at Cariboo Art Beat asking if the gallery would be interested in hosting an art show about mental health, Jorgensen said ‘yes, let’s do this.’
Jorgensen contacted Canadian Mental Health Association Cariboo Chilcotin Branch for some help with resources.
“They sent out a brochure with the call for artists to all the places they are connected with in May and we have 16 artists and poets in the show and some are as young as 14,” she said. “We got a really great response to put this together.”
Jorgensen said this year has not been easy with the COVID-19 pandemic and lots of people have struggled.
“A lot of people journal and create art work to control how they are feeling. We wanted to put on an art show that resonated with people.”
Beaulieu paints and writes poetry, something she has done since she was a kid.
One of her pieces in the show is a woman lying on her back with 225 butterflies emerging from her body.
Each butterfly represents a woman who has been sexually assaulted who reached out to Beaulieu when she asked.
This is her first art show.
“I didn’t do all of my pieces for this show, this is what I do every day of my life,” Beaulieu said. “I don’t paint for people’s sofas, I paint for people’s souls.”
By painting, she gets her own emotions out and helps others, she added.
“It makes it worth it, and sometimes it is hard.”
Jorgensen said Beaulieu messaged her when she was working on the piece with the butterflies and told her it was very difficult to complete.
“I said, ‘I picture you at the front of a ‘v’ like you are taking all the brunt of the wind, but you are leading all these people by doing this very important thing. I literally walked outside. It was 10 o’clock at night and dark and suddenly this flock of geese flew over. There were hundreds in the form of a ‘v,’ so I messaged Mandee back and said, ‘you have to finish it.”
Keegan Follack, another artist featured in the show.
“I am just really grateful that I was able to make it through my mental health and enter my first art show. When I was going through it I really believed there was no more joy in my life so I feel very empowered to get to do things and be in a community that brings me joy.”
Follack said she felt honoured to be part of the show.
“You’re not Alone,” will be on display until July 18.
To check for hours of operation see the Cariboo Art Beat Facebook page.