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Expressions presents artists not illnesses

Show puts focus on mental health and recovery

By: Dave Baxter

Posted: 10/5/2017 10:00 AM

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Mandy Giesbrecht of Grunthal, seen here hanging her artwork at the Steinbach Cultural Arts Centre, is this year’s featured artist in the Expressions: Recovery Through Creative Expression art show.

DAVE BAXTER | THE CARILLON Enlarge Image

Mandy Giesbrecht of Grunthal, seen here hanging her artwork at the Steinbach Cultural Arts Centre, is this year’s featured artist in the Expressions: Recovery Through Creative Expression art show.

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Artists who use their artwork to express themselves, but also as a means to deal and cope with mental health issues will be celebrated this fall at the Steinbach Cultural Arts Centre.

The 14th annual Expressions: Recovery Through Creative Expression exhibit will run Oct. 6 to Dec. 1 at the Steinbach Cultural Arts Centre Hall Gallery, and feature more than 30 pieces of art from 10 different Manitoba artists.

Expressions is a free community event held annually in conjunction with Mental Illness Awareness Week, and showcases the artwork of those "who use art in the journey of recovery from a mental health problem, and to promote better understanding of mental health in our region."

The show features a variety of art from artists who have all dealt with mental health issues in their lives.

Mandy Giesbrecht of Grunthal is this year’s feature artist for the Expressions show, and said as an emerging artist and someone who deals with a mental illness she likes the fact she can show her work, while also promoting mental health awareness through the show.

"This show is a really good venue for someone like me who is an emerging artist," Giesbrecht said. "And when it comes to awareness the stigma is often the most difficult thing to deal with and this show works to create that awareness."

She added that when she started doing her artwork, it became a way for her to cope with her mental illness.

"I started about four or five years ago when I was in a rough place in my life and there are a number of parts that are played when it comes to mental health recovery, but for me art is a really important part of that," she said.

The show features six pieces by Giesbrecht and she described her work as "photo-based digital art."

"I’m going out and taking pictures and then manipulating the picture using digital tools," she said. "So I feel I am showing what I see though my eyes."

Kim Heidinger of the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society said the show is also a way to show that people with mental health issues should not be defined by those issues.

"Every artist here has had some experience with a mental illness, and the purpose is to show another side of a person and show that we aren’t defined by our mental illness," Heidinger said.

"We want people to see the person and the artist and not just the illness."

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