The walls of New Westminster's Arrieta Art Studio (707 Front St.) are decked out with colourful canvases that portray an artist's struggle with mental illness.
Artist Tianna Hall's solo show features acrylic paintings (ranging from $75 to $1,600) that often include textured mediums such as modelling paste, recycled paint chips, glitter and silicone window caulking.
Each is a reflection of Hall's state of mind — at different points in the years since the pandemic.
"At that time, I was misdiagnosed with clinical depression, and I was attempting to make sense of my own mind by seeing it visually. It gave me enough clarity to reach out for further help. Which is when I was diagnosed bipolar, two years ago," Hall told the Record.
"I spent most of my childhood and adult life diagnosed with depression (on antidepressants, which for a bipolar person can cause severe mania). I reached out to the City of Vancouver screaming for help (affordable counselling) with no help — that I qualified for at the time — offered."
Which is when Hall took her mental health into her own hands and started practicing art as therapy, she said.
"I am now medicated and on a good path at handling my triggers to keep myself from going into mania or a depressive episode."
As an ode to this journey, besides featuring her work in an art show, Hall is also organizing a "chaotic" paint workshop on Tuesday, Sept. 19 — participants will be invited to splatter the paint or use their fingers or a paintbrush to create an abstract portrait of themselves "with an open heart and mind."
This will be followed by a group paint night on Tuesday, Sept. 26, where a group of people will create art together on a single canvas.
The final work will be auctioned off to raise funds for a mental health charity.
With both the events and her art show, Hall hopes to shift perspectives on people with mental illness — "lose the stigma that follows bipolar, appreciate people with mental illness for more than someone sad and instead someone with magic locked away, waiting to come out."
"My mental health journey has been a struggle, but without a struggle you forget to appreciate the little things," said Hall.
The art show is on until Saturday, Sept. 30 with a free artist talk at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9.