The exhibition by This is My City (TMC) showcases work by homeless or at-risk citizens of Calgary.
“This exhibition is not about sales, it’s about creating awareness and letting people know that This is My City exists,” explains TMC board President Linda Hawke.
“It’s about taking down stereotypes and building understanding through art.”
TMC provides art mentorships at various shelters across the city including The Drop-In Centre, the Women’s Shelter, and Alpha House.
The exhibition showcases paintings, photography, writing, a large graffiti mural, quilts, and decorated cowboy hats.
TMC started up in 2008 as a program put together by the City of Calgary but after the city program ended, a group of local artists decided to keep it going, having seen the positive impact the program had.
In 2010, TMC became a non-profit society that still strives to bring art to those less fortunate.
Max Ciesielski, a client at the Drop-In Centre, recalls a friend of his who found herself through art at the Drop-In Centre.
He says that she would probably still be on the streets if it weren’t for art which, as he explains, is why art is so important.
“The thing has value,” says Ciesielski, who has been practicing since the age of 10 and is a multi-talented artist.
The exhibition is free and TMC encourages Calgarians to come out and see first-hand what a positive impact art can have.
“Calgary is a very diverse city and we tend to stay in our own little social circles and coming out to see some of this work just broadens the horizon about who the citizens of Calgary are,” says Hawke.
“I think that looking at some of this art gives you a different perspective about some of the reasons that people are in the situations that they’re in.”
Hawke feels that these shelters are filled with people searching for a way to express themselves.
“It’s a basic human need, and if that need isn’t addressed then all kinds of things can go wrong in your life.”
She believes that through creative expression, we can more easily relate to others and surpass boundaries that often separate us.
“We’re all human beings, we’re all sharing this space together so let’s see what we can learn from each other.”
The Epcor Centre is in the Municipal Building, at 205 8th Ave. S.E., across Macleod Trail S.E. from the Max Bell Theatre.