Ottawa

The power of art: New exhibition at Salvation Army shines light on work by recovering addicts

HEARD: A Collection of Our Art, a new exhibition at the Salvation Army Booth Centre shines light on original art made by participants in the centre's addiction programs, who are encouraged to express themselves through art.

'You're expressing yourself with lines and colours rather than words'


In a large room just inside the entrance to the Salvation Army Booth Centre in the Byward Market, a poet stands in the corner reciting hard-earned lessons, surrounded by displays of brightly coloured paintings and drawings, all made by the men who attend the centre's art studio workshop.

'If I'm angry it just comes out on the paper'

Painting, poetry and acting out are all part of the weekly therapy sessions for residents of the housing centre and others who take part in its addiction recovery program.

Every Monday night for the last three years, men have been encouraged to explore, their lives, their anxieties, and the root causes of their addictions through the making of art.

Chi Wey Lee - Salvation Army Art Studio Program participant (Sandra Abma)

Chi Wey Lee, who says he was once severely depressed and homeless, hasn't missed one session since they started.

"I used to tend to keep everything to myself, all bottled up and then I'd explode," said Lee as he stood before a number of his brightly painted works. "Art is a good way for me to express it. If I'm angry, it just comes out on the paper."

Dennis Pettigrew, a former resident of the men's shelter, is showing his illustrations at the exhibition. In the video below, he talks about the value of the art therapy program as a worthwhile diversion.

Art as a welcome diversion

7 years ago
Duration 0:23
Dennis Pettigrew, a former resident of the Salvation Army Booth Centre, is one of the artists displaying his work at HEARD: A Collection of Our Art.

'You're expressing yourself with lines and colours rather than words'

Melissa Weigel, the Ottawa Booth Centre Chaplain, launched the workshops as part of the ongoing drug and addiction rehabilitation program, because she wanted to create an informal atmosphere where participants would feel free to use paint, pencils and ink as a means of self expression.

Heard: an exposition of original artwork created by clients at The Salvation Army Ottawa Booth Centre. (Sandra Abma)

"It's very therapeutic as it gives you some self awareness, some self discovery, an expression of your emotions something you might not realize is going on inside of you," said Weigel.

"You're expressing yourself with lines and colours rather than words."

HEARD: A collection of Our Art is now on display at the Salvation Army Booth Centre at 171 George St, in the Byward Market.

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