By Mya Hane (age 13)

It is not always easy to discuss your mental wellness, but art is a great way of sharing your thoughts and feelings without having to verbalize. The exhibit created by youth and displayed at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery was a perfect example of this. Four local artists, Derek Khani, Pam Cain, Shaun Hedican, and Janelle Wawia each showed youth a different art technique that the participants used to create their own masterpieces. Each piece of art in the exhibit told a different story.

Pam Cain’s hanging cube art project

One of my favourite pieces was the hanging cube art project done with Pam Cain. It told me about the necessity of each and every one of us. Each one of us is one of those cubes and we are all different. We need every cube, or person, for our community to fit together. Each person then builds the community but we will always need each box for the community to be whole. The medium sized boxes were painted with watercolour and had words describing each artist’s personality incorporated into the painting. The images, marks, and watercolour painting techniques expressed feelings. As a result, hidden feeling were shown in the form of art.

Art is a true testament to individuality

The art project with Shaun Hedican was also very intriguing. The mixed media collages included an image of each participant and different symbols and colours that had significant meaning for the artist. No two of the collages were the same; a testament to individuality. Derek Khani’s project also incorporated collaging and painting—these pieces really seemed to portray some of the interests and passions of the artists.

Janelle Wawia’s project was beading moccasins. Each youth chose beads and fabric they felt were unique and represented themselves. All of the beading was beautiful. The artists ranged from 7-24 years old with the average age being 14.

At the art exhibit, you were welcome to participate by answering two questions for yourself, writing your answers on a piece of paper, and hanging it on the interactive wall of questions. The questions were “What do you need in order to feel mentally well?” and “What about your community makes you feel like you belong?” As the night progressed the wall started to fill up with people’s answers. Some of the answers to the question “What do you need to feel mentally well?” were: music, running, quiet, exercise, horses, boxing, and Tai Chi. Everyone has something different they feel they need to have a healthy mind. Mental wellness is very important and that is why I think the Mindful Expressions, My Mind, My Art exhibit at Thunder Bay Art Gallery is so important.

You can visit this exhibit, which is presented by the Thunder Bay Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force, until February 12, 2017 at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, 1080 Keewatin Street.