Awakening the Spirit art show exhibits creativity and resilience

Artist Bernadette Kroft with her contribution to this year’s Awakening the Spirit Art Show and Sale. Photo: Cierra Carlyle


September 13, 2021

Clients of Canadian Mental Health Association - Vernon (CMHA) are excited to share their art at the upcoming Awakening the Spirit Art Show and Sale. It will run from September 10-27 at the Vernon Community Arts Centre.

In its 18th year, the annual event showcases the work of program participants. According to CMHA, the show aims to “educate the public about the lives, creativity, and abilities of individuals in the community with mental illness.”

Participants submit their works to a selection committee made up of artists and CMHA staff. One of the artist committee members is Bernadette Kroft. Her oil painting of a hibiscus is featured on the event poster. She also submitted an intricate textile piece to the show. 

Largely self-taught, Bernadette took fine arts studies for a couple of years but then mostly quit making art. After a 20-year break, she picked up a pencil and started to draw again.

“People get this idea it is really easy [to make art] when you have a mental illness, but it’s not,” she says. “It’s harder because you have to deal with the struggles you are going through, as well as trying to do a piece.”

Artist Lor-Ree Brown says while CMHA classes helped stimulate her interest in art, connecting to a community of other artists like Bernadette who could teach and mentor her is what really made the difference. She says Bernadette helped provide “. . . a different perspective on things. That was a precious gift that she gave me to inspire me to keep going.”

Lor-Ree has two pieces in the show: a watercolour and ink image of thistles, and a watercolour landscape of the Prairies in winter. It provides a “a glimpse into my mood” she says about the latter, reflecting quiet and solace.

Betty Kent is exhibiting a photograph of a winter scene taken in her back yard. She says she has been doing various forms of art—painting, drawing, photography—for most of her life, inspired by her grandmother who was also an artist.

She says the art program with CMHA has enriched her life. 

“Art makes me a better person. It makes me feel like I can do anything if I put my mind to it.”

Works by Bernadette, Lor-Ree, Betty and other participating artists can be viewed in-person from September 10 to 27 at the Vernon Community Arts Centre (2704A Highway 6, Vernon, BC).

Works from the Awakening the Spirit Art Show and Sale can be viewed and purchased online from September 10 to 27.