Vernon Canadian Mental Health Association Manager of Rehabilitation and Wellness Programs Lenai Schmidt at the 16th Annual Awakening the Spirit Art Show and Sale. (Submitted photo)

Vernon CMHA celebrates therapeutic power of art

The 16th annual Awakening the Spirit Art Show and Sale runs until July 23

There are still a few days left to visit the Awakening the Spirit Art Show and Sale at the Vernon Community Arts Centre.

The 16th annual show to support the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) launched on June 27 with art created by community members living with mental illness and mental health challenges, and runs until July 23.

This year, local artist Willow Sage’s submission Tamma – The Spirit Elephant of Prosperity & Healing was chosen to be represented in the official event poster.

READ MORE: Vernon CMHA draws in art proceeds

The piece took about a month to create, and was almost ruined when it got rained on.

“All the colours blurred together,” she said.

However, she persevered and restored her artwork.

“I re-inked the lines, and added a scent and some glitter,” she said. “I was also making jam at the time and used some of my ingredients as colour.”

She managed to submit the piece a half-hour before the deadline.

“When I found out I won, I cried,” she said. “I had felt overwhelmed trying to fix the piece, but believed that throughout, I would be acknowledged somehow.”

READ MORE: New mental health and addiction centre in Surrey a first for B.C.

The piece features outlines in India ink and is coloured with pigments from elderberry juice, cranberry jam and mint, with parts representing personal struggle, healing, and people who influenced her life.

As a survivor of childhood abuse, she said it was art that helped her discover the healing power of immersing yourself into the moment, having a purpose, and sharing your gifts with those around you.

“Ninety-nine per cent of healing happens in your tribe, where someone is always a bit stronger to help you and someone is always a bit weaker so you can help them,” she said.

“I have met wonderful people here at CMHA. It is an amazing place of love and acceptance. Instead of judging mental illness they celebrate uniqueness.”

READ MORE: Demand for mental health services increasing with acceptance

She said she hopes her art would be healing for the person who buys it.

“When they struggle, I want them to touch it and connect to it,” she said. “I celebrate and bless every piece with my love so that experience will go to other person.”

The show and sale runs Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

READ MORE: Jungle-inspired art show supports CMHA Vernon

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