Montreal

Montreal exhibit Parle Moi d'Amour celebrates art therapy creations

The free exhibit near Place-des-Arts features work by participants in art therapy workshops alongside some of Quebec's top artists.

Free exhibit near Place-des-Arts runs until Thursday

An art exhibit showcasing contemporary art.
The artwork from the exhibit Parle Moi d'Amour will be sold at a live auction on Wednesday night, with bidding starting as low as $50 on some works. Alt: An art exhibit showcasing contemporary art. (Simon Nakonechny/CBC)

After a lifetime as an elementary school teacher, 71-year-old Diane Major would never have imaged seeing herself in an art exhibit, but she says she's discovered a whole new side of herself ever since a burnout led her to art therapy. 

A sculpture of a clown and prints of abstract art seen in an exhibit.
The piece by Claude Tousignant, top left, already has a bid of $1,550. (Simon Nakonechny/CBC)

For a third year in a row, her artwork is being featured in the exhibit Parle moi d'amour, where creations by participants in art therapy workshops run by the organization Les Impatients are being presented alongside that of some of Quebec's top artists.

"It's been such a rewarding experience for me, because we can come together and share what's going on inside," said Major, whose work in the exhibit is available to purchase. 

About one-third of the exhibit comes out of the workshops, offered for free across the province to Quebecers with mental illnesses like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Major says it was a diagnosis of major depression and generalized anxiety that led the retiree to a workshop — and ultimately changed her life. 

"I had so much trouble living," Major said.  "I told the psychiatrist, I have no more will power to do anything. Nothing interests me anymore."

"In our society it's always about how well and how fast you can perform. The final product is the most important. But with Les Impatients, it's the steps you take that matter, and that's what makes all the difference," she said. "Each step counts and each one you take has its value, regardless of the end result, whether it's positive or negative."

The workshops draw more than 800 each week, with children represented by youth protection also in attendance, said Frédéric Palardy, the general director of the organization. It provides all the material needed to create the art.

"It goes from 'It saved my life,' to 'That's the only place where I feel good,'" Palardy said about the artists who attend their workshops.

WATCH | Frédéric Palardy explains Les Impatients' art project:

Montreal exhibit highlights art therapy works

2 months ago
Duration 0:41
A free exhibit downtown features work by participants in art therapy workshops alongside creations from some of Quebec's top artists.
 

"It's a very safe space. Everyone respects each other, everyone knows around you people are suffering," he said. "But when you look at their work, there's not much suffering."

All works are given an equal place in the exhibit, whether they're by one of Quebec's famous abstract artists like Jean-Paul Riopelle, or someone who's just started painting.

The organization calls itself Les Impatients since participants are "not thought of as patients" but rather "as creators impatient to heal," according to its website.

A man in a blazer stands in an art exhibit.
Frédéric Palardy say there's only two criteria to be eligible for their art workshops; a willingness to work in groups and a willingness to try. (Simon Nakonechny/CBC)

"They've experienced difficult things in their life, and they need to express that," said artist Marilyne Bissonnette who leads workshops in Montreal, Joliette and Repentigny, also featured in the exhibit.

"When they come to visit the show and see all the people that have come, they receive a lot of love, they are so proud."

Professional artists and private collections have donated the rest of the pieces in the exhibit.

Art-lovers who want to take their favourites home can bid on all the artworks featured, with all proceeds going to the organization. Bids started as low as $50 on most, and can be placed online or during the live auction set for Wednesday night.

The free exhibit is on display at 200 Sherbrooke Street West at the Université du Québec à Montréal until Thursday.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Miriam Lafontaine is a journalist with CBC Montreal. She has previously worked with CBC in Fredericton, N.B. She can be reached at miriam.lafontaine@cbc.ca.

Based on a report by Simon Nakonechny

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