New public art project opens conversation on mental health

Wheels of Change project in downtown Chilliwack meant to raise awareness about what it means to struggle with mental health issues.

Sylvie Roussel-Janssens in front of her public art installation

Sylvie Roussel-Janssens in front of her public art installation

It’s public art with purpose.

Wheels of Change, now installed on the fence at the downtown community gardens, is up just in time for national Mental Health Week May 4-9.

The colourful and collaborative project is meant to raise awareness about what it means to struggle with mental health issues.

“For me it’s about starting the conversation,” said artist Sylvie Roussel-Janssen.

As she was installing the colourful flowers on the fence this week, several people walked up to her and wanted to talk about it.

“An endless number of people were eager to talk,” she said.

The temporary installation was approved by city council, and supported in spirit by Ruth & Naomi’s Mission.

Five members of the Chilliwack Cheamview Clubhouse helped out with Wheels of Change by burning fabric holes into the design and adding health-related words onto the flowers. The Clubhouse is part of the Creative Centre Society, which provides habilitation and recovery based programs in Chilliwack to support people who live with persistent and severe mental illness.

“Sylvie’s piece exemplifies what public art should do: provides beautification, but with a specific purpose, in this case raising awareness about mental health,” said Coun. Sam Waddington, the city councillor who chairs the Public Art Advisory Committee.

It’s the second public art project in town since the committee was struck last year to oversee the metal art installation in front of the Chilliwack Cultural Centre, for CADREB’s 50th anniversary.

“Good public art should actually change the consciousness of a community, and I’m very excited to see what this can do to transform Chilliwack,” he said.

It took months to get all the necessary approvals, but Roussels-Janssen is thrilled to see it come to fruition.

“I’m really happy with what it looks like, and optimistic about the impact,” she said.

Public art can run the gamut from functional to purely esthetic, and doesn’t have to thoughtlessly plopped down.

“It could be a beautiful bike rack, a painted curb or a sidewalk with a beautiful mosaic,” said the artist.

Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Week is an annual event that takes place during the first week in May to encourage people from all walks of life to learn, talk, reflect and engage with others on all issues relating to mental health. See www.mentalhealthweek.ca for more.

Chilliwack artist Sylvie Roussel-Janssens has a well established sculptural art practice ranging from small objects to large installations, on themes like history and the environment. She has exhibited across B.C and the rest of Canada. See more at www.lsclight.ca

The public art committee is hard at work drafting a list of potential locations on city-owned property for the future, as well an inventory of visual artists.

“We’re striving to make the creation of public art an easier process,” Waddington said. “And if there’s one thing as committee we’re hoping to do is with every piece, it is to create a thirst for more. We haven’t always had a history of public art in Chilliwack, but we’re going to create it.

“I think we’ve turned a corner now.”

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

twitter.com/chwkjourno

Just Posted

.
Fraser Health monitors long-term care vaccination rates amid local COVID-19 outbreak

COVID-19 transmission has largely been on the decline in Agassiz-Harrison

Chilliwack’s Jordyn Huitema, a member of the Canadian national women’s soccer squad.
Another scoreless draw for Chilliwack’s Jordyn Huitema and Canadian national women’s soccer squad

Canada played Brazil to a 0-0 tie days after doing the same in a friendly against the Czech Republic

FVRD surveyed public opinion on cannabis production and processing in the electoral areas. Odour and distance from residential areas were the top concerns. (Black Press file)
Cannabis production and processing rules being drafted by Fraser Valley Regional District

Data from public opinion survey will be used to guide cannabis-related land use

Robert Nelson, 35, died after being stabbed at a homeless camp in Abbotsford on April 7 of this year.
Mom pleads for information about son’s killing at Abbotsford homeless camp

Robert Nelson, 35, described as ‘man who stood for justice, honour, respect’

Chilliwack firefighters watch as an O’Connor Towing operator removes a stolen Volkswagen station wagon from the Fraser River off Cannor Road in west Chilliwack on June 13, 2021. (William Snow photo)
PHOTOS: Stolen vehicle dumped in Fraser River in Chilliwack Sunday

Search and Rescue determined there was no one inside the car found upside down off Cannor Road

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Squirrels are responsible for most of U.S. power outages. Black Press file photo
Dead squirrels in park lead Richmond RCMP to probe ‘toxic substance’ found in trees

Police aren’t sure if the chemical was dumped there or placed intentionally

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Most Read