The 14th annual Expressions art exhibit opened at the Steinbach Cultural Arts Centre Friday night with visual art, live music, poetry, and storytelling.
Kim Heidinger has helped organize the annual exhibit for many years now. She notes their tagline is recovery through creative expression.
"This is all about artists and performers who have had experience with a mental health problem at some point in their lifetime but the bigger piece is that they have experienced recovery and that they have used their art or their music or their poetry in some way to help in the healing journey."
Heidinger says mental illness has a large impact on people’s lives but it is also just one aspect of their lives.
Warren Friesen is a local musician who played at the opening of the Expressions exhibit. He says he has been dealing with depression since he was a teenager and his music is one of the tools he has used for recovery.
"Basically, my message is to help reduce that stigma a little farther because this is a very real illness and you should have no shame in talking about whether you take medication or you go for therapy or whatever way you can overcome this illness and for me music played a huge part in that."
Friesen says between songs he spoke to the crowd about his journey and how he has handled his depression. He notes no one should be ashamed of their illness and they should always feel encouraged to get help.
Heidinger adds Friday was a fitting time to open the exhibit as the first week in October is always Mental Illness Awareness Week.