Eight years ago Susan submitted an application to live at Shuter, a time in her life that she openly admits was “out of hand”. When she was offered a room twenty-four hours later, it was a turning point. She happily affirms that having a home has enabled her to stay clean for over four years, in part because of the belonging it’s given her. “I’ve made lots of friends and I like the staff and I like the programs,” she asserts. The art program in particular has become an essential part of her therapy.
Susan recalls originally attending the program to simply do something positive, with little interest or motive. But as the program evolved, so did her skill. “As soon as we got new people coming in to teach us how to do portraits and different unique things, I got involved and my art progressed. It looked like real art!” This enthusiasm uncovered a passion for colours. “I’m really good with colours.” she beams. “I’ve always known I was good with colours. But now, I can use my colours and create something.”
Establishing her artistic vision has not only helped Susan discover a new talent, it’s also given her a new lease on life. “Before I was really anxious all the time. But ever since I’ve been doing art, I’ve been calm. It frees me and gets so much stuff off my mind.” As a result, Susan habitually attends the art program once a week. She’s an astute pupil, following the instruction given with focus and gusto, and also keeps a sketchbook handy at home.
Susan proudly proclaims that art class has become her education. She feels like a true artist. While she hopes that people are inspired by her work, she firmly believes “You have to be humble,” regardless of the reaction. She’s also adamant that people need to have “their space when they’re looking at the art.” Her implication is universal. All art is subjective and often requires interpretation.
Susan remains overjoyed at the nomination and feels that winning would be a validation to keep doing what she’s doing. She says she wouldn’t need much if she won: just paper, an array of markers and a really, really good lunch!
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