Building Community and Breaking Barriers Through Art

by | POSTED: Feb 26, 2016

During the past four months, five local artists brought their talents into our Drop-in Centre, and led our community members through a variety of creative art workshops. With the help of our steadfast volunteers and practicum students, these generous artists-in-residence provided an opportunity for participants to express themselves through both new and familiar mediums. This endeavour, made possible through the generousity of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, left a lasting and positive impression on everyone involved.

In October, participants used paint-pouring techniques reminiscent of Jackson Pollock. Artists poured, dripped, and stained un-primed canvases that had been placed on the floor. They were invited to “feel”  their compositions as they layered the colours together.

The following month, participants were invited to try silk-screen printing; the art of creating multiples. For some of the “students”,  the repetitive nature of this medium was therapeutic and calming.

With December came Relief Printing. This involved carving images into Styrofoam or Lino then transferring the images onto paper or fabric.

In January, participants enjoyed embroidery on Wednesdays.  The needle work was popular with all — older and younger, men and women! On Saturdays they discovered the art of making traditional Indigenous rattles and fans, eager to learn about their ceremonial significance.

Over the months, a genuine camaraderie developed among those who took part.  This was made evident through the increasing number of positive and encouraging comments about one another’s pieces.  One artist noted:

“There was no segregation when it came to level of skill and ability. Everyone was welcome and that atmosphere was established”

– Artist from the Creative Arts Program

Bissell Centre believes that working alongside one another builds community,  breaks down barriers, and fosters inclusion and respect. This Creative Art Program reinforced this belief.

Most of the community members who attended the workshops donated their work to Bissell Centre. Most do not have a place to call home, and no place to showcase it.  If you would like to see more of their work, some of it can be seen in our reception area. We hope to display more soon. It is an honour to share their art created here at Bissell.

Thank you to the artists who shared their time and talents with our community:  Debra Rusler,  Leanne Olson,  Brittney Roy,  Devon Beggs,  Carolyn Wagner    

We also want to express our utmost gratitude to the Alberta Foundation for the Arts for making this project a reality!

Creativity knows no bounds, but arts supplies and equipment are frequently too expensive for people living in poverty. It was a delight to bring paint, brushes, textiles, a printing press, and more into the Drop-in!  Our community members truly appreciated the opportunity!