Take With Plenty of Water: ACAD Student Art Exhibit Tackles Mental Health Issues Head On

March 16, 2015

Calgary, AB – The Alberta College of Art + Design Students’ Association (ACADSA) is launching a weeklong exhibition, Take With Plenty of Water (March 16 – 20) in the Main Mall to showcase student artwork that addresses mental health.

The exhibition is a culmination of a unique Artist in Residence program organized by ACADSA and  funded through the Alberta Campus Mental Health Innovation Fund. The goal of the program is to raise awareness of mental health issues while offering students the opportunity to gain hands on practical skills related to their field of study at ACAD.

Community health workers are excited to see ACADSA supporting the mental wellbeing of ACAD students. “ACAD is preparing young adults for a healthier future, says Gail Mukaida with Mental Health First Aid Canada. She continues, “The benefits of better informing the public about mental health problems include potential improvements in student performance, work productivity, personal relationships, overall health, and quality of life.  As a community, we cannot afford to let stigmas and myths about mental illness perpetuate the pain and suffering of our friends, family members, and colleagues. This is why it is so exciting that ACAD is supporting the mental wellbeing of their students by offering the Mental Health First Aid Canada (Basic) course, and by sponsoring a project in which students can create works that reflect their ideas and beliefs on mental health.”

The week long exhibition features paintings, ceramics, jewellery, photography, projection and animation. Twelve students were accepted into the Residency and have each been awarded a $500 bursary to help support their practice. Participants were required to choose a research topic related to one of the residency themes. Skin focuses on issues of body image, self-esteem and eating disorders, Melancholy focuses on depression and anxiety, and Vice deals with addictive and compulsive behaviors The students  meet as a group to discuss their goals, to share what motivated them to partake in the program and to brainstorm specific ideas that they felt would relate to their creative practice. 

When asked why she applied to the residency, one of the students, 3rd year painting major Annie Belley says, “I want to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness by forcing society to view it as a very human disease, rather than something alien and frightening, and I believe that building awareness is the first step.”

ACADSA is grateful to the Alberta Campus Mental Health Innovation Fund (ACMHI) for the support of the program as it has empowered students' associations across Alberta to create initiatives that support their campuses in ways that are relevant to their students. Sarah Grodecki, President of the ACAD Students’ Association says that the student reaction to the Residency program has “inspired us (ACADSA) to reflect on how we as a community can support mental health and well-being on our campus. It’s really pushed us to think outside the box in terms of how we build awareness towards these issues. We are really fortunate to have been able to offer our students a creative and meaningful opportunity that enhances what they are learning in the studio and the classroom.”

Media: For more information and to arrange interviews or obtain a full media kit, contact:
JoAnn Reynolds, External Communications Specialist, Alberta College of Art + Design 
t. 403.284.7656 c. 403.892.5394 joann.reynolds@auarts.ca