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Poster for Wendy Mataija's solo art exhibition Awake at Show Gallery in Toronto

With the generous support provided by the Ontario Arts Council (OAC), Wendy's new project, "Awake", visually explores the body, disability and mental health during/post COVID.

The world is facing a global mental health crisis. COVID may have exacerbated these issues – or simply exposed them. As a disabled artist struggling with mental illness, Wendy understands the need for community connections/re-connections and supports. She argues that individuals suffering from mental illness often hide their pain; they agonize in private, seeking isolation from loved ones and communities. They fear the stigma that is still attached to mental illness. But social connections, family and communities – however defined – are critical for recovery. COVID cut off those vital connections, and it’s incredibly difficult for many people to re-connect.
 

Frontline workers fought COVID head-on, isolating themselves from family to keep them safe, facing serious dangers every day. They were traumatized. They gave up their beloved professions. They lost their lives. Wendy notes that she's not always confident that they felt understood or appreciated by their communities.

Wendy's goal for this project is to visually explore the mental health impacts of COVID on individuals, and therefore, communities. Through recognition, representation, inspiration and empowerment, she hopes that others will see that they are not alone.
 

With funding provided by the OAC and Workman Arts, Wendy is creating 8-12 mixed media paintings using liquid techniques. The 3D painting above was created using layers of acrylics, mica pigments, alcohol inks and resin; the photographs above highlight the emotional pain of nurses/doctors. The first layer of the paintings comprise the “skin” of the individuals pictured; it interrupts the image, dissects it, and what we understand to be “true”. These are not easy images to view, but Wendy hopes that they will honour and highlight our individual and collective struggles.  

Wendy's solo exhibition "Awake" will debut in August of 2023 at Show Gallery in Toronto, Ontario. For further information, please contact us

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