‘It was just amazing:’ Nanaimo artists donate huge collection of paintings to area crisis shelters

Workers at Island Crisis Care received donations of art for the soon-to-be-open shelter to help beautify the space.

Island Crisis Care workers unwrapped newly donated paintings Thursday and were in awe of the works bound for their soon to open Nanaimo shelter Samaritan Place.

“This is so beautiful,” said Elspeth Erickson, Island Crisis Care Society’s Development Manager.

The area’s artists are donating some of their best works, to help others going through their worst.

“Ultimately what we hope for our clients is that they will find hope and being able to connect with a piece of artwork brings that hope,” said Erickson.

Nanaimo artist Marilyn Strongitharm was the guiding force of the gifting. She put out a call to members of the Nanaimo chapter of the Federation of Canadian Artists looking for original works to decorate safe houses run by the Haven Society which helps women and children fleeing violence and for the shelters of the Island Crisis Care Society.

“They had no art on the walls. The money that they collect has to go to the counsellors, and the rent and the food,” said Strongitharm.

She said the response was remarkable.

“I just really couldn’t believe it, it was just amazing the generosity, the love,” said Nanaimo artist, Trudy Broadley, who donated several of her paintings.

Strongitharm said artists who have been painting through the pandemic, without art shows to sell them at, got their first chance to share their work. In all, she collected 130 unique works, and in the process surprised everyone with the volume of kindness.

“It was the giving and the joy of being able to share. The artists feeling that they could actually do something. When as you well know we’ve had two years of isolation, not being able to feel touch, hug. This is our way of I guess hugging those we don’t really know,” said Strongitharm.

Officials say this art will soon fill bedrooms, teen rooms, and common areas where people escaping crisis can go to feel safe… able to enjoy a beautiful painting, or many now, thanks to the caring community outside.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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