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Arts

Seasons of Hope

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7 minute read

This article originally appeared on The Creative Hive Blog on May 15, 2019.

Season Of Hope Fundraiser: A Fine Art, Fine Jewellery, and Fashion Show

Spring is the ultimate season of hope…right?  Seeds get planted and there is anticipation about what will grow, how it will grow and how strong the roots will be to steady it when life comes roaring through.  Having hope or being in a season of hope is powerful for Sonja Deklerk.  It means there is a future and it means there is a chance for beauty to shine brightly.

Sonja exudes kindness…it was flowing from her the first time we met and I instantly knew she was special.  She like so many others popped in to The Creative Hive to see what was going on, but with an idea it may be the right space to host her upcoming Fashion & Art show.  That was it.  I was wrong about that because it was the beginning of getting to know a person who is inspiring in most everything she does.  I hope in the next few paragraphs I can give you some insight in to the inner workings of this Mom, Wife, Creative Soul, Artist, and Entrepreneur who has her own story to tell.

There was a slight chuckle when Sonja described how long art has been an important part of her life and she clearly remembers selling her drawings on the corner in her cul-de-sac at 4 years old.  Sonja has never been scared of sharing her art…actually she says it’s the most rewarding thing in the world when you see an idea or concept come to life.  For the most part, Sonja describes herself as a very joyful person, but there is another side of her…depression.  It’s that side of her she is most nervous to share, but confidently admits “there is a part of me that is good…a part that is bad…the healthy and the sad…it’s all me.”

There is an innate strength in standing up and sharing your story.  Sonja shares hers to help connect her to the community and wants to be an example or advocate to anyone else who struggles with depression.  She first noticed something in grade 6 when she suffered long stretches of not feeling right and not sleeping .  By 14, she was seeing a doctor, but it wasn’t until after her second child was born at 22 years old, Sonja was diagnosed as bipolar.

The diagnosis wasn’t all bad…it gave some answers to everything she was thinking and feeling, but at the same time Sonja says she still very strongly felt it was her fault.  That if she just tried harder or was more positive she would be able to manage this.  The diagnosis was hard on her entire family…her husband was still a student and they had a one year old son and a newborn.  Then her dad passed.  It all added up to Sonja realizing she had to get up and share to save her life.  She had to reach out.

While she knew that, the feeling of isolation was strong.  She explains she felt like she didn’t belong and the negative self talk was overwhelming.  It came to a point where she attempted suicide.  She was in the ICU for a week.  Family came to say their goodbyes.  It was touch and go and when she came out of it she was low enough to be admitted on the psychiatric unit.  She had extreme guilt that she had attempted suicide and says she just wanted to shrivel up and isolate herself because she was too afraid to face the world.  Sonja says matter-of-factly that there is no way to sugar coat this… it happened, but at the lowest of lows she found the strength to fight her way back.  Her strength came from talking.  Sharing her story and opening up about what she struggles with each and every day.

That isn’t the end of the story.  It does’t just stop there.  For Sonja some days are great, some days are okay and some days are awful.  It’s how she deals with each and takes care of herself that allows her to continue to move forward and live her life to the fullest.

Her online blog sharing her journey back to health allowed her to connect with a supportive group that she could also help.  In the past 7 years her mission has bent advocate for mental health breaking down the stigma through art, singing and writing.

Her show The Seasons of Hope is happening at The Creative Hive on Saturday, June 22.  It’s a collection of very joyful pieces and the unveiling of a new style of painting Sonja has fallen in love with.  It’s also a showcase of her jewelry pieces that she’s crafted for more than a decade.  The latest line with inspirational messages…affirmations you can touch daily to make you feel stronger.

Sonja says it’s important for her to make sure people know they matter.  Just by your very nature you are a living breathing soul with value.  Believe in yourself.  Have the confidence and courage to seek help or help others.  Life is better when you surround yourself with love.  Life is better with hope.

Learn more about Sonja Deklerk here.

Get tickets to Season of Hope here.

 

Alberta

Alberta’s Distinguished Artist Award Recipients Announced

Published on

June 16, 2021

Alberta’s Distinguished Artist Award Recipients Announced

(Calgary, AB) The Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards Foundation is pleased to announce that artist Faye HeavyShield (Blood Reserve, Kainaiwa Nation, AB), writer and filmmaker Cheryl Foggo (Calgary, AB), and dance choreographer Vicki Adams Willis (Calgary, AB), have been selected to receive the 2021 Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Distinguished Artist Award.

Arlene Strom, chair of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards Foundation said, “Albertans can be proud of these three whose contributions have pushed the boundaries of art to reflect Indigenous identity and expression; present a more inclusive and diverse view of Alberta’s history; and define the province as a beacon for jazz dance artists. Each has contributed immeasurably to the development of the province’s artists, arts communities and expanding art disciplines.”

Faye HeavyShield, Visual Arts

Faye Heavyshield

Over the past 30 years, Faye HeavyShield has been one of Canada’s pre- eminent artists within Alberta and the Blackfoot Confederacy. Currently living on the Blood Reserve in southwestern Alberta, Faye studied at Alberta University for the Arts in Calgary.

Honouring her Kainaiwa (Blood) Nation, the striking landscape they dwell within and the Blackfoot language which she speaks, Faye HeavyShield’s legacy of three-dimensional art and sculpture including recent installations incorporating photography and delicately constructed paper figures make her a senior figure in the artistic and cultural renaissance of Indigenous nations in the country.

“…My art is a reflection of my environment and personal history as lived in the physical geography of southern Alberta with its prairie grass, river coulees, and wind and an upbringing in the Kainaiwa community. I would say the environment is an extension of myself because it’s always been there, from the time I was a child. It was one of the first things that I saw and smelled. I consider it a part of me. The landscape is an extension of the body because we’re dependent on it, and to flip that, the landscape is dependent on us…” Faye Heavyshield

Beyond her personal practice, Faye is actively involved with her community by working with youth through art programming and creating cultural connections for children in care.

Cheryl Foggo, Playwright, screenwriter, film maker, author

Cheryl Foggo

Creating a more inclusive and diverse view of Alberta’s history through her plays, films, books, articles and multi-media presentations has been Cheryl Foggo’s life work. Profiled in Who’s Who in Black Canada and the recipient of the 2008 national Harry Jerome Award for The Arts, Foggo has applied her talent as a researcher and writer to uncovering the compelling but overlooked stories of Alberta’s Black settlers and

cowboys. Most recently, the award winning National Film Board feature- length documentary, John Ware Reclaimed (2020), highlighted an earlier thriving Black community in the province often left out of the history books.

Her seminal, autobiographical book, Pourin’ Down Rain: A Black Woman Claims Her Place In The Canadian West, is a powerful narrative of Foggo’s ancestors’ journey from enslavement in the United States to Western Canada. The book, first published in 1990, received the distinction of a special 30th anniversary reprint in 2020. Her books for young people: Dear Baobab, I Have Been in Danger and One Thing That’s True have garnered many commendations between them, including One Thing That’s True being short-listed for the Governor General’s Award. In addition to her books, Cheryl Foggo has published prose in more than 40 journals and anthologies.

Two new productions of Foggo‘s plays are scheduled in 2021 with the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton and the Urgency Collective in Calgary, and her short play The Sender is currently available through Toronto’s Obsidian Company’s 21 Black Futures Project. As a cultural activist, mentor and volunteer she advocates for writers and Black artists.

Vicki Adams Willis Performing Arts: Dance

Vicki Adams Willis

Vicki Adams Willis has changed the face of jazz dance in Alberta and Canada. A co-founder nearly 40 years ago of Decidedly Jazz Danceworks (DJD), she is foremost a teacher and choreographer of more than 35 original productions. She is recognized as a true leader in the world of jazz; an acclaimed ground-breaking choreographer who created one of the most unique jazz dance companies in the world, and the key person to ensure Calgary, Alberta as a viable dance centre for serious jazz artists. She has helped to change the very course of the jazz dance art form by influencing students, dancers, musicians and audiences with her strongly researched and brilliantly creative work.

Jazz dance is a misunderstood art form. Born of African parents and of the Black American experience, Vicki Adams Willis acknowledges herself as a guest in this form and has demonstrated her deep understanding of, and utter respect for, the authentic roots and history of jazz through her research, teaching and choreography. The company she co-created in 1984 – Decidedly Jazz Danceworks (DJD) has gained international recognition. It has been referenced in articles, dissertations, anthologies and, most recently, in an award-winning international film: Uprooted–The Journey of Jazz Dance, which had its Canadian premiere at the 2021 Toronto Black Film Festival.

“..These three ground-breaking women have offered important contributions to the arts in Canada. Their creativity has brought new light to their respective disciplines and created countless opportunities for us all to learn, grow and explore fresh ideas. Artists like this are essential to the vibrancy of our communities and we are truly fortunate to have them as cultural leaders in our province and country as a whole…”

Her Honour, the Honourable Salma Lakhani, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta

The laureates will each receive a handcrafted medal, a $30,000 award and a two-week residency at the Banff Centre’s Leighton Artist Studios. The awards patron, the Honourable Salma Lakhani Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, will present the awards at a celebration hosted by the Community of Lac La Biche and Portage College, Lac La Biche campus, at an awards event June 10 and 11, 2022.

The awards are funded through an endowment established with private donations and gifts from the Province of Alberta and Government of Canada. The Lieutenant Governor of Alberta serves as honorary patron of the awards. Since its inception, 23 Distinguished Artists and 63 Emerging Artists have been recognized across Alberta with this significant honour. See details at artsawards.ca

The 2021 Distinguished Artists were chosen from nominations received and reviewed by a jury of experts overseen by the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Jurors for the 2021 Distinguished Artist Awards were Mary-Beth Laviolette, visual arts curator and author; John Estacio, 2017 Distinguished Artist and JUNO nominated composer; Seika Boye, scholar, writer, artist and Assistant Professor, University of Toronto, Centre for Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies; Jordan Abel, Nisga’a writer from Vancouver and Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta teaching Indigenous Literatures and Creative Writing.

Click to learn more about the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards Foundation.

Read more on Todayville.com.

 

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Alberta

DISTINGUISHED & EMERGING ARTIST AWARDS JUNE 2022

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Lac La Biche County and Portage College have been making plans for a community celebration to honour three new 2021 Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Distinguished Artists. Given the ongoing COVID-19 related challenges of convening in person, Portage College, Lac La Biche County, and the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards Foundation have moved the celebration to June 11, 2022.

This change has provided a new opportunity: for the first time in the Awards’ history, the host community of Lac La Biche County will celebrate both the 2021 Distinguished Artists and up to 10 new 2022 Emerging Artists.

Her Honour Salma Lakhani, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, says she is looking forward to honouring the Distinguished and Emerging Artists next summer in Lac La Biche.

“I appreciate the tremendous work that the community has already invested into this special celebration, and I know that the 2022 awards will be well worth the wait. In the meantime, I offer my heartfelt thanks to all of the artists, administrators and patrons across Alberta for everything that you are doing to keep the arts a vibrant part of our lives and our communities during this extraordinary time.”

The organizers look forward to hosting this prestigious event and showcasing Alberta’s diverse arts scene. Their June 2022 plans include opportunities to chat with artists, outdoor community celebrations featuring an Art Walk and Market, art classes and demonstrations, an artist retreat, and a celebratory awards gala.

Click to learn more about the Foundation.

 

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