Art with heart

With no dedicated art gallery in the region, a group of more than 15 local artisans are championing community-focused art culture by displaying their work in the hallways of St. Joseph’s General Hospital. The gallery is a project by the Vegreville Visual Artists group.

“Each piece of artwork is an expression of our inner soul. It’s a part of us; each piece has a story behind it,” says Dianna Sapara, a local painter. The group hopes to change the artwork on display at the hospital four times annually. This is one of two rotating art galleries in the community.

Artwork currently on display in the halls of St. Joseph’s General Hospital

The gallery project is well received by the patients and their families. 

“I like art. I like creating art. It gives me such joy just seeing it, or making it,” says patient Linda Marie Myshaniuk, who regularly views the gallery with her husband Ron.

“It’s really nice to see the patients coming by and enjoying the art,” says artist Lois Bienvenue. The project at the hospital is especially close to the heart for Lois, who suffered a fall from a building that left her unable to walk or talk for nearly four years.

“When I was sick, I was depressed. I was stressed to the limit. I got frustrated—and determined,” she says. “I asked the nurse for a pencil and paper. I wanted to write, but something strange happened; I started drawing. It felt like divine inspiration. I did not know that I could do this.” Lois now makes a living as a commissioned artist.

Artist Lois Bienvenue shows her artwork to patient Linda Marie Myshaniuk. They discuss how they both live on the same farms that their families settled over 100 years ago.

“It’s hard to believe that I became an artist at the age of 50 while injured and staying in a hospital bed,” she says.

Her heritage, and her love and appreciation for the region, are apparent in her work.

“I was born here. I have been a resident here for most of my life,” she says. Her artwork helps to breathe new life into otherwise dilapidated structures. She uses photographs of aging structures in the region to create one-of-a-kind drawings that depict the structures in their original glory. Lois frames her drawings using the original or reclaimed wood from the structure when possible.     

All of the work displayed at the hospital is for sale by the artist. The group donates 20 per cent of the proceeds back to the Covenant Foundation in support of St. Joseph’s General Hospital.

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