Norma’s been a Torontonian for over 35 years and has enjoyed the typical urban life. When her marriage abruptly ended it set in motion a series of events that eroded her foundation and stability. A year ago she found solace at Savards, our women’s shelter. While she’s finally feeling hopeful again, her first days with Homes First were very difficult.
“You don’t have a home for one, you’re not working for two, and you’re like a burden on society as far as I’m concerned. And I fit into that category,” Norma recalls. But as the days unfolded a chance encounter with the shelter’s art program turned everything around. “I saw people sitting at a desk and doing paintings and I said ‘Oh that looks interesting.’ So I started to paint and just never stopped!” She was surprised at how good she was at being creative, and how free she felt while doing it.
That was seven months ago and despite her recent relocation to Strachan House, she has no intention of slowing down. In fact, she’s also a facilitator for the writing program at Savards, traveling across the city every Thursday to help lead workshops at her former hostel. Although painting is her passion, she believes writing also relieves stress, because putting your thoughts on paper makes you focus on what you’re writing, which can shift negative thinking. She feels lighter these days and encourages others to also keep a positive mindset.
She hopes her artwork evokes a similar response. Norma’s process involves painting as often as she can. She takes her inspiration from nature and daily surroundings. She feels like she’s on a new life path and encourages others to take the steps in discovering their own creative expression. “Now I have a purpose and I hope I can influence other people to release whatever talent they have that was hidden,” she says.
Creating her abstract art continues to gives Norma a large sense of hope and pride. She believes she’s on a journey and is truly excited about her destination. When asked about the nomination she smiles. “I feel good about it,” she says. She elaborates, saying that if she won she would only need to have her materials replenished. Canvas, paint and brushes: the essential tools of an artists’ trade.
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