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2014-03-23 at 16:31

Complete picture

By Matt Vis,
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Confidence can be a magical thing.

That’s definitely true for Lindsay de la Rosa, who found belief in herself thanks to a camera in her hand.

She was one of eight participants in the Canadian Mental Health Association's PhotoVoice project, where artists were encouraged to take pictures of things that made them feel alive.

The empowerment de la Rosa felt in the project now has her headed towards being an arts student at Lakehead University.

“Before I had no confidence in myself as an artist but now I feel I can really do good things with it,” she said at the unveiling of the project at the Baggage Building Arts Centre on Sunday.

“My mission is to be an artist and it’s a good start to get in the public.”

For Joanne Otte, the CMHA’s manager of education and training who oversaw the initiative, the turnaround for de la Rosa was just one example of the positive effects throughout the entire group.

In their own way, everybody received a benefit.

“It’s fabulous. I think everybody in this group moved to a different place of wellness and I think hers was a really good example,” Otte said.

The purpose of the project is rooted in having the participants look past their difficulties to find positives and embrace their lives.

Taking photographs of things that bring peace, enjoyment or fulfillment allowed the artists to focus on who they are as individuals.

“You’re asking people to focus on their dreams, desires and strengths so we gave eight of these individuals cameras and they went out in the community and took pictures,” Otte said. “It forced them to stop identifying with the illness and really look at what makes them come alive.”

One artist, Jennifer Hebert, found the project opened her eyes to the continual presence of music in her daily life.

Her favourite picture was one with a guitar and other instruments and it represents a soothing influence.
“Music is always on despite whatever mood I’m in,” Hebert said. “There’s always a song that speaks to my heart and it’s going to play in my soul.”

The gallery of photos is on display on the second floor of the Baggage Building Arts Centre.

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