The ArtSpeaks Project came into existence in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario in 2016 thanks to a Seed Grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
ArtSpeaks operated in collaborative partnership with three local agencies invested in women's health: Breton House, Sault Area Hospital's Sexual Assault Care Centre and Phoenix Rising Women's Centre. Our inception is very much thanks to the generous in-kind support of their directors, counselors and staff.
At it's inception, The ArtSpeaks Project offered women and female-identifying individuals impacted by trauma due to sexual violence, addictions and mental health challenges, the opportunity to participate in art-based-learning through cultural mentorship with professional artists.
During its first year, the ArtSpeaks Project consisted of two distinct programs: Art-Drop Fridays (and Tuesdays) and the ArtSpeaks Workshop Series. By the end of the 5-month Seed Grant period, a total of 92 sessions (30 Art-Drops and 72 Workshops) were delivered.
Workshop artworks made by project artists and series participants was then staged in our Ideal Art Space at 724 Queen East in a final exhibit titled "Re-Purposing Trauma".
Art-Drop Fridays (and Tuesdays)
The Art-Drops were created as an offshoot to the proposed project to offer alternative programming to the more structured workshop series while still being facilitated by local professional artists. Like the Workshop Series, they were offered to the community free-of-charge.
Fridays allowed for participants to engage in self-directed art-making while Tuesdays gave participants in the workshop series who needed more studio time the opportunity to work undisturbed.
In 2019, Art-Drops became our present ArtHives/CyberHives.
The ArtSpeaks Workshop Series
The ArtSpeaks Workshop Series was an arts-based skills-development program for women impacted by trauma due to sexual violence, addictions and a variety of mental health challenges.
These women, clients of our three partner agencies: Breton House, a recovery home for women, SAH's Sexual Assault Care Centre and Phoenix Rising Women's Centre, were encouraged to utilize art-making as a means of creative problem solving in the service of fostering resiliency.
Participants took part in workshops built on the basics of art, design and narrative processes, working in small groups alongside local Professional Artists in a functional artists' studio. Through these sessions, they learned through cultural mentorship and guidance about the potential for their own artistic practice.
A variety of art forms were explored across four separate workshop series, each featuring six sessions of 3-hour weekly sessions, each limited to 8 participants per workshop:
"I found hope. I found emotions. I found courage. I found joy. I found there is a
life worth living and I found I have ability to not only speak about how I feel but also write about it."
ArtSpeaks Project Program Participant
2017 In Review
The ArtSpeaks Project leapt off to a great start in March of 2017.
SooToday dropped in on March 31st to find out what it was all about:
On Friday, April 21 we hosted an Open House/Meet & Greet from 4-6pm. "Join us in celebrating the launch of The ARTSpeaks Project at our Ideal Art Space, 724 Queen St. East, SSM, ON."
On May 9th, Shaw TV Sault Ste. Marie dropped in to see how the project was coming along!
In September, we opened our weekly workshops to the public:
On September 19, 2017, Art-Drop Tuesdays begin! Join us, Tuesdays from 1-4pm for our regular drop-in art-making sessions for women/female-identifying, non-binary folks and youth (ages 16+), in our Ideal Art Space @ 724 Queen Street East! Sessions will run until November, and are offered Free-of-Charge. Donations of gently used art supplies, textiles, yarns, found objects, canvases, drawing paper, etc. are gratefully accepted.
On September 22, 2017, Art-Drop Fridays was up and running, with a twist! Join us, Fridays from 1-4pm for a 3hr Guest Artist Mentor presentation and workshop at our Friday Drop-In sessions for women, female-identifying, non-binary folks and youth (ages 16+), as well as men dealing with trauma, in our Ideal Art Space at 724 Queen Street East! These sessions will be offered BY DONATION ($5 min.) or pay-what-you-can.
As we neared the end of our first year in 2017, we held weekly workshops at the Sault Ste. Marie Museum and looked to our community to help keep the project running:
On November 11th, the ArtSpeaks Team was in attendance at the 5th Annual Holiday Gift & Craft Show, hosted by the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre!
We were there with all kinds of art and information regarding the project, invites for upcoming exhibit and shared our fundraising campaign with the community.
Wrap-up and Final Exhibit
The "Re-Purposing Trauma" Exhibit was opened for public viewing starting November 16th from 6:00–10:00p.m., at the Ideal ArtSpace on 724 Queen East. Gallery hours were on Tuesdays at 1:00–3:30pm, 5:30–8:00pm and Wednesdays through Fridays at 1:00-3:30 pm from November 17 to December 16, 2017.
CTV Northern Ontario's Lincoln Louttit stopped by to help spread the word about our upcoming exhibit and what ARTSPEAKS means to us and our participants in an interview.
Additional Media Coverage
- The ARTSPEAKS Project Open House by SaultOnline (2017, April 18)
- The ARTSPEAKS Project Launches into Action! by SaultOnline (2017, March 22)
- MAKING ART THAT SPEAKS: The ARTSPEAKS Project Launches into Action with ART-Drop Fridays - March 23, 2017
- New Project's Art Featured - November 7, 2017
- The ARTSPEAKS Project Exhibit Opening and OTF Recognition Event - November 16, 2017
- Art Speaks - November 17, 2017
- $75,000 OTF Grant Makes the ARTSPEAKS Project Possible- November 21, 2017