Arts & Health works with a dynamic group of professional artists from a multiplicity of artistic disciplines, including dance, writing, video, puppetry, voice, painting, weaving, carving, drawing and more. In addition to bringing expertise in their respective fields, these artists have experience in and receive training for facilitating community-engaged arts experiences through our Community of Practice programming.
What is community-engaged art?
A community-engaged art practice is a working collaboration between professional artists and community participants who work on the creative expression of ideas and issues that are important to them. It is cooperative, participatory, and focused on exploration, creation, and relationship-building. The process of creation is as important as the final product.
"Seeing each of the seniors glow with confidence was a fantastic memory that I will never forget."
"The challenges we experience through language barriers is also a gift. We all need to pay very close attention to each other in order to be understood and learn from one another"
"I believe that as we recall and reconsider our stories, we recall and re-consider ourselves, the world, and our place in it."
"Participants are gaining an enormous amount of confidence within themselves through this workshop and gaining confidence can only benefit your health.”
Sharon is a performing artist and current Co-artistic Director of Mortal Coil Performance Society, a Vancouver based theatre company whose work ranges from site-specific outdoor theatre and spectacle, to smaller touring shows for audiences of all ages, to community-engaged art projects with a focus on stilt walking, puppetry and mask performance.
Sharon was one of the Lead Artists for the Arts, Health and Seniors Project at Strathcona Community Centre starting in 2006. Working in close collaboration with other artists and community workers, she led a dedicated group of Chinese elders through the creative process of devising new, original puppet-theatre shows performed by the seniors annually as part of the project’s year-end showcase and exhibition.
Most recently Sharon has worked on a collaborative Arts & Health team with the Elders of Tsleil-Waututh Nation.
Leah Abramson is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and instructor from Vancouver, B.C. After touring internationally with indie rock and folk bands, as well as her previous project, The Abramson Singers, Leah is now releasing her fourth original album of songs.
Along with her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (focus on lyrics) at the University of British Columbia, Leah has studied classical music at Capilano University and traditional Appalachian balladry and singing with Alice Gerrard and Ginny Hawker.
Leah Abramson has taught songwriting courses and workshops in the Creative Writing Program at the University of British Columbia, The Vancouver East Cultural Centre (The Cultch), The Carnegie Centre, and Girls Rock Camp Vancouver.
Leah’s current project, Songs For a Lost Pod, is a collaboration with Pacific Northwest orcas that turns whale vocalizations into beats, and scientific research on marine mammals into lyrical fodder.
Veronica is a dancer, dance artist and dance movement therapist, passionate about the use of dance/art as tools for individual and social transformation. For years she has led community engaged dance programs with children, women and youth around the world. Born and raised in Mexico, she is currently honored to live in Coast Salish territory where she works supporting women to understand and integrate the relationship between their cyclical female body and their psyche. Veronica strongly believes that our body is gatekeeper of our story and, when given the safe space, it can express in movement what our soul is trying to say. In her role as a dance therapist, she aims to hold that safe space.
Keely O’Brien is an interdisciplinary artist based in Vancouver, BC, on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. Her art practice incorporates intricately handmade objects with immersive, innovative theatre creation. Devoted to a thoroughly handmade, DIY process, Keely’s work includes puppetry in miniature and enormous scales, immersive installations, imaginative ephemera, and interactive experiences. As a community engaged arts educator Keely creates and facilitates participatory and collaborative artwork with community members and organizations. Deeply site-responsive and engaged with questions of place, home, and belonging, Keely’s work aims to celebrate the potential for creativity and community in the place and people around her. Keely is Co-Artistic Director of experimental theatre company Popcorn Galaxies [popcorngalaxies.ca]. She holds a BFA in Theatre Performance from Simon Fraser University.
Jim is an East Vancouver-based storyteller, songwriter, and performer. Jim has written, produced, and performed in a number of solo storytelling shows that have been part of festivals such as the Vancouver Outsider Arts Festival, Heart of the City Festival, and Fringe Festivals across Canada. As a musician, Jim has performed at the Vancouver Farmers’ Market, Granville Island and a variety of venues around Vancouver. As a storyteller, Jim’s mission is to tell his own story and to support others to gain the skills to find and tell their own stories. He fulfills this mission by performing, teaching and researching storytelling. His approach is to work to create a safe and inclusive environment that welcomes all contributions. Workshop content is based on an iterative approach that works to identify and address the needs of workshop participants.