While the subject of Shirley Coon’s photos has evolved over the past 40 years, her love for nature photography has never wavered.
“I always take pictures of trees,” Coon said. “I love the trees.”
Photography has been an outlet for the 53-year-old from Victoria who is one of six siblings.
Coon says growing up her family struggled with alcohol abuse and addiction as a way to cope with the loss of her twin brother.
“From all the chaos in my family the photography kind of helped me with self-care,” explained Coon. “It helped me forget about life and brings out my inner child.”
Coon is selling her photos as one of 45 artists and artisans selected for the Winter Craft Fair for Emerging Artists at the First Metropolitan United Church on Saturday.
The one-day sale, put on by Our Place and the Victoria Cool Aid Society, gives low-income and emerging artists a chance to sell their work to the public.
Nicolas Méthot of the Victoria Cool Aid Society says many of them have chosen to channel their struggles through art and this is the first time they’ve had the chance to present their work to the community.
“It’s amazing just the number of people that stepped forward to say that they used art during recovery to steady themselves and reach stability,” Méthot said.
Méthot says the event gives those who face financial barriers in the community a chance to make some income.
“It’s an exceptionally stressful thing to put yourself out there as an artist and particularly stressful to combine that with the job of being an entrepreneur for the first time,” explained Méthot.
Raven James is also among those selling his work at the event.
Recently, one of James’ paintings was presented to B.C.’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Judy Darcy, at the Victoria Cool Aid Society’s annual general meeting.
James says it was a special moment for him as an artist.
“My mother told me it was a gift I was born with and something I should share,” James said.
James is hoping to save up enough money to attend art school in the near future.