Former Vancouver Canucks goalie Corey Hirsch and his battle with mental health is the inspiration behind the MindFull art exhibit, which occurs at The Reach on June 27. (Submitted)

MindFull exhibition focusing on Corey Hirsch’s mental health battles

Robert Bateman Secondary School students’ artwork on display at The Reach

Corey Hirsch’s lifelong struggle with mental health is set to be showcased in a unique way by Robert Bateman Secondary School students later this month.

The MindFull Art Exhibition takes over The Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford on June 27, and the former Vancouver Canucks goalie will be on hand to take in the project.

The exhibition shares the life story of Hirsch visually through 28 large-scale paintings done by RBSS Art Activism students.

Art Activism program teacher Alexandra Klassen said she first discovered Hirsch’s story through her husband, and became inspired by his story and his fight against mental health.

“It’s an issue I’m personally passionate about and I love Corey Hirsch’s message,” she said. “He really speaks about early intervention and diagnosis and how important that is within the realm of mental illness. We still have so much shame and stigma around mental illness for young people and young men, and the work he is doing is so important.”

Hirsch, who represented Canada on the international stage and also played professionally with the Canucks, New York Rangers, Washington Capitals and Dallas Stars, revealed his struggles with mental health to the sports world back in 2017 when he penned an article for the Player’s Tribune. Since then he has become an advocate for mental health awareness and specifically working to end the stigma associated with mental health.

He went on to partner with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and speaks with schools and organizations across the country on the issue.

It was through one of those school visits that MindFull came together. Hirsch spoke on mental health at RBSS in February, and the project began to form.

“I thought it was a bit of a long shot when we reached out to him to be involved,” Klassen said. “But he spent the day with our class.”

Hirsch fielded questions from small groups of six students and all his responses were recorded. Klassen then pared those conversations down to 28 shorter clips, and each student was then assigned an audio clip. It was from that audio clip that each student was tasked to create a painting representing what was said.

Klassen said that all those attending the exhibition will have the opportunity to not only view the paintings, but also listen to the audio that inspired the work of art in a truly interactive experience.

All the proceeds from the event will go towards creating a scholarship that will go to a student struggling with mental health and/or addiction. Hirsch himself is also expected to attend the event, and Abbotsford Foundry will be there providing information for ways youth can help deal with mental health issues.

Klassen said the finished paintings will potentially be auctioned off in a silent auction if the demand is there.

The event runs from 6 to 8:30 p.m., and tickets are $15 for the general public and $5 for students.

This marks the third big fundraiser put on by the Art Activism program, which is unique to RBSS. Past years have seen a look at refugees in Abbotsford and an exhibit on the local history of residential schools.

For more information on the show, visit rbssart.com.

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