ART AGAINST STIGMA ART SHOW: part of the 13th Annual Eastside Culture Crawl November 20-22
Last week Jessica Taylor, founder of Pacifica Photography, asked me if I would be interested in volunteering my photography services for The Kettle Friendship Society’s upcoming art show, Art Against Stigma, part of the 13th annual Eastside Culture Crawl. I was more than happy to help and shortly I found myself at The Kettle housing offices with a room full of artwork and two enthusiastic volunteer assistants, Dion and Jesse. Our task: photograph every piece in the room so that they could be used for promotional and archival purposes. In the hectic 7 hours that followed, we had unpacked, photographed, and re-packed 305 pieces of art that were on their way to be framed and displayed at the upcoming show November 20-22.
I have to admit, the quantity of work for this volunteer effort was a bit overwhelming. Dion, Jesse and I had a good flow going by the end of the day but often we would come across a piece that needed more than a slight adjustment of lighting to make it look its best. Some pieces were behind glass, and rather than use a polarizer (to avoid a slightly blue cast that it introduces), I darkened the room and hid my reflection by spending most of the afternoon covered by a dark blanket. I spent two nights in post, straightening and cropping, cloning and healing (to fix some seams in a not-so-seamless seamless paper background). Due to time constraints I had to forego any perspective oddities or lens distortions – shooting straight on with a 50mm lens and keeping the subject well away from the edges helped.
All of the artists that participate in Art Against Stigma have mental health disabilities and, as the title suggests, the show is designed to shatter the preconceptions that people have with “mental health disability” – it shattered mine. What immediately struck me was the quality of the art. Several times a new piece would be placed in front of my lens and I would think “wow, that would look good on my wall”. Then I would see how reasonable, and often how downright inexpensive, some of those pieces were going to be sold for. Dion, Jesse and I made mental notes of which ones we might snap up for ourselves. Today, a week later, I had to be reminded that all of the artists have mental health disabilities. I guess I’m comfortable in that knowledge and have already moved past it because when I look at these pieces all I see are some very talented artists.
The Art Against Stigma Art Show is organized by The Kettle Friendship Society and is one of several shows in the 13th annual Eastside Culture Crawl visual arts festival in Vancouver. The show runs November 20-22 at 1725 Venables Street (at Commercial).