Challenge

The Amethyst Women’s Addiction Centre (Amethyst) provides support services to women managing addictions, such as alcohol, drugs and gambling. To build a stronger network of support, the centre was seeking ways to engage the women in group activities beyond their counselling services.

Approach

Through Art Place, a three-year pilot artist-in-residence program by AOE Arts Council, Amethyst was partnered with professional artists Christine Mockett and Karina Bergman to facilitate a series of fibre workshops. In these workshops, the women at Amethyst were given the materials and guidance to create sculptures out of salvaged materials which embodied their strength. Together, Mockett and Bergman showed participants how to work with textiles, metal and sledge to create sculptures which represented the struggles they were experiencing.

Impact

By hosting Art Place artists-in-residence, Amethyst’s clients learned how to work with new materials and were given a space and medium to creatively work through their addictions. This creative space also allowed the women to form a stronger community within the centre. Though not strictly a therapeutic workshop, the counsellors at Amethyst saw therapeutic elements in the workshops which allowed their clients to speak openly about their addictions and provided them with a creative outlet for their emotions.

Our clients were very appreciative of the fact that the program was held in a space they already knew and felt safe in and offered at no cost because it reduced the barriers to their participation.
– Amethyst Addiction Centre Staff

I think it’s something they can come and do that is not particularly about treatment but is fun and there is no pressure. It’s something they come to do to feel good and express their creativity. I think it’s really great the Art Place project happened. It’s has allowed me to work more with the community and setting up these projects, and it let me expand my skills as a teacher. It really got me started on the new projects I am doing now.
– Christine Mockett

Legacy

Following their Art Place residency, Mockett and Bergman worked with Amethyst to find more funding and create new creative group projects. Together, they were successful in creating a second series of art projects outside of Art Place, called Stepping Stones, which engaged women in creating garden decorations for the centre and gave them the opportunity to learn about gardening. Mockett continued to work with the centre and this led her to seek-out further funding to make community engaged art an ongoing part of Amethyst’s services.

Christine Mockett demonstrates how to working with fibre arts can help participants give shape to their inner selves and express their creativity.

Photo credit: Alexandra Campeau, AOE Arts Council

Clients at the Amethyst Women’s Addition Centre creating mixed-fibre sculptures.

Photo credit: Alexandra Campeau, AOE Arts Council

A group of sculptures created by the women at the Amethyst Women’s Addiction Centre.

Photo credit: Christine Mockett

AOE Arts Council sincerely thanks all the artists, non-profit host partners and the following donors and funders who make this program a reality: Ontario Trillium Foundation, Community Foundation of Ottawa, Community Foundations of Canada’s Community Fund for Canada’s 150th 2016-2017, the Shenkman Family Foundation, the Danbe Foundation and the City of Ottawa Community Art and Social Engagement Program.