Art and Poetry for Mental Health
Grace Robertson’s poetry is lyrical and reflective. She writes clearly and with purpose. Like many poets, her purpose is to give voice to the challenges with which she lives. Grace has struggled with an eating disorder for nearly 8 years and writing poetry about her experience helps her process. She also hopes that those who read it will learn from it.
“My hope in writing this poem is that people would see that eating disorders are real,” she says. “The pain is real. We are not horribly selfish people trying to ruin the beautiful bodies God gave us. We are hurting people trying desperately to find relief and worth in a world where we feel worthless.”
Grace’s poem is one of 14 that will be on display in a unique installation called Hear and See: Poetry and Art for Mental Health, opening March 6th at the Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford. Each of the 14 poets has been paired with an artist who has interpreted that poem visually. The exhibit is facilitated by Communitas Supportive Care Society, which supports people who live with mental health challenges. Communitas also supports people who live with developmental disabilities and acquired brain injury.
Angelika Dawson is the communications manager for Communitas and one of the exhibit organizers. She is excited about the opportunity to have poets and artists give voice to their experience.
“Artists and poets have a unique way of experiencing the world,” Dawson says. “When we get a chance to come alongside them and experience that world through their voice, we are better for it.”
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 20% of Canadians will experience mental illness in their lifetime. It affects all of us at some time, whether personally, through a family member, a friend or colleague. Yet, because of the stigma that surrounds mental illness many who are living with it, do so in silence.
Dawson hopes that all who come to see the exhibit will take time to savour the words and images and then reflect on their own experiences. Hear and See: Poetry and Art for Mental Health is presented by Communitas Supportive Care Society and The Reach and is sponsored by Envision Financial and the Lohn Foundation. For gallery hours and information, visit The Reach. A reception to celebrate the opening of the exhibit was held on Thursday, March 15th and a poetry reading and artist talk is planned for May 3rd. Check the details below!