Chester credits Homes First with giving him his life back. He’s been with the agency for over a year, having been previously housed at a 543 bed shelter where he felt “like a trapped animal.” Chester found it hard to keep himself grounded and was “getting headaches and anxiety attacks.” The future looked grim, until he moved into Jarvis House. Since arriving, he has felt relaxed and at ease. As a result his talent for drawing has burgeoned. “I love it here. Once I came in here I could just breathe again. It was so much better and now I can concentrate on what I want to do, and art.”
A friend of Chester’s introduced him to the pencil, but his inspiration to draw actually came from his grandson. “I have two of his little pictures in my room upstairs,” he shares. “I was looking at his drawings and I could see things in them, like different pictures just by his scribble. And I was looking at the shades and all different things in it and I just started drawing after that.”
Chester’s been a part of the art program for six months and is constantly evolving his craft. He needs little motivation to draw, often getting lost in the process for hours each day. Drawing has become as necessary as breathing. It gives him a sense of satisfaction and calm while helping him cope with the undercurrent of loneliness and the ghosts of addiction. Drawing has also opened up his mind to reading and writing again. He’ll often include poems in his artwork and has read a total of four books to date.
Chester’s drawings are filled with layered imagery and minute detail. Yet he still feels like a beginner and doesn’t consider himself to be an artist. But others do - this is Chester’s second nomination.
What Chester does consider himself, is free. “Drawing gives me kind of a freedom. When I’m drawing I’m just in another world. Nothing else exists except for what’s in front of me. So I can kind of drift off and dream. It makes me feel good, and it’s making me a better person”.
Chester feels honoured and surprised to be nominated again. “I feel like I’m accomplishing something,” he says. If he doesn’t win he states he won’t be bothered, he just appreciates the recognition. But if he does, he’s emphatic that with the additional supplies, he’s “gonna rock it.”
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