Communitas Supportive Care Society and the Fraser Valley Brain Injury Association (FVBIA) present an art show starting Thursday, Nov. 5 featuring work created by people living with acquired brain injury.
The exhibit, titled Happiness, will be shown at The Reach Gallery Museum (32388 Veterans Way) until Jan. 9 in the Community Art Space.
The theme developed as participants in the project reflected on the journey with brain injury in the midst of a pandemic.
“We wanted to invite viewers to consider the sources of happiness even while they are experiencing the challenges of living with COVID,” says Mary McKee, case manager with FVBIA.
The exhibit includes art from nearly two dozen artists, who are connected through the Brain Injury Drop-In groups hosted by Communitas in Abbotsford and Chilliwack, and through the FVBIA.
At the beginning of the pandemic, some of the artists continued to work on their art in the safety of their homes. Others participated in art classes online.
When the province began to open again, the two organizations coordinated in-person classes for those who wanted to explore painting further.
Artist and teacher John Le Flock has been leading art classes through these organizations for several years. He enjoys working with the brain injury groups and says the art classes are more than simply something to do.
The camaraderie of being together with people who understand life with a brain injury and the positive feedback they receive is vital.
“Creating art is about confidence as much as it is about talent,” Le Flock says. “It is important to stimulate the brain but it’s also important to realize that you are creating something unique that gives others happiness, too.”
Esther Tremblay, who coordinates the Brain Injury Drop-In in Chilliwack, says that she has heard participants talk about the impact that has come out of these classes.
“They use words like ‘connection,’ ‘hope,’ and ‘support’ as they talk about building their self-confidence and self-esteem,” she says.
Sheral Jones coordinates the Brain Injury Drop-In in Abbotsford. She says she is amazed at the level of talent in the group and the variety of artistic means that the artists use to express themselves.
“We’ve got people working in oils, acrylics, photography, and more,” she says. “Their work is amazing by any standard. The fact that they are all living with the impact of an acquired brain injury makes it all the more astounding.”
Along with the physical exhibit, The Reach will also have images of the art work and artist statements on their website at thereach.ca.