Art an Expression of Love
When Chills thinks about how far she’s come in life, she acknowledges that the struggles are part of what have shaped the person she is today.
“Hard things make you grow and build character,” she says.
It’s inspiring that Chills can say this, given the hard things she has struggled through. Her life changed on September 8, 2013. On that day, she says that everything she knew to be true was “inverted and flipped”. It was the day that she experienced a severe mental breakdown that left her hospitalized for weeks and began a difficult journey through psychiatric wards, group homes and support programs feeling like life was falling apart. She has been diagnosed several times, in different ways, but now has come to accept that she lives with schizoaffective disorder and that she is still in recovery. In many ways, she feels stronger and more confident that she ever has.
“I have come a long, long way and self-acceptance has been a ride,” she says. “But I think that I know myself better now than I ever did before.”
Part of her journey has been a spiritual awakening and she firmly believes that the Creator has carried her through this journey. It’s another way that she acknowledges the good things that come out of struggles.
I have never been so close to my Creator and I wouldn’t know her like I do if I hadn’t gone through all of this – Chills, artist
Chills says that having a strong support system around her has helped give her life stability. Medication has also become a part of her life. Another way that she processes the things within her is through the arts. Chills is a poet and musician and these different media have given her a voice with which to explore and express her mental health journey.
“Art is a deep form of expression and it’s limitless,” she says. “There’s so many ways to express yourself. It can be anything you want it to be and say anything you want it to say.”
Chills is one of 28 poets and artists who will take part in an upcoming exhibit at the O’Connor Group Gallery in Chilliwack called Hear and See: Poetry and Art for Mental Health. Fourteen poets have each been paired with an artist who has interpreted that poet’s work visually. (This is the second installation of this exhibit; Hear and See was first shown at the Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford earlier this year.)
Chills hopes that those who attend the exhibit will come with an open heart and wtill come away having experienced the unexpected. She is excited that this unique exhibit gives voice to artists like her and knows that it can inspire others, likening inspiration to a chain reaction that gives people hope to make a change in their own lives.
“I think art is an extension of love,” she says, explaining that the courage an artist needs to put themselves into their work and then allowing it to be viewed or heard publicly is a gift of love to those who hear or see it. “If somebody can see the love in what I’m doing then that love can express itself in other ways.”
For her, art is also an expression of joy.
“I’m so happy when I am expressing myself. It’s a huge part of what I am meant to do.”
Hear and See: Poetry and Art for Mental Health opens December 13th at the O’Connor Gallery in Chilliwack. An open house reception will be held on Saturday, December 15th, 2018 from 1 – 3 pm. The exhibit runs until January 19th, 2019. A poetry reading and artist talk is planned for Saturday, January 12th, 2019 at 1 pm. The exhibit is presented by Communitas Supportive Care Society and the Chilliwack Visual Artists Association.