Under the direction of Yehudit Silverman, Chair, Department of Creative Arts Therapies, Concordia University, in collaboration with the Education and Community Programs Department of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, this innovative project aimed to use the arts as a therapeutic tool to raise awareness around the prevalence of suicide and how it affects families, loved ones, and communities.
This project involved a collective of individuals from various different communities coming together to share, express, and explore the taboo subject of suicide. In breaking the silence, these participants united in using the arts to express suffering but also to celebrate resilience, strength, and hope.
Using the mask, a form that suggests the stigma that frequently surrounds the issue of suicide, the participants courageously communicated their feelings around issues of suicide through the use of diverse mediums, structures, and creative processes.
Four groups participated in creative arts therapies workshops at the Museum: a group of Inuit who related to the impacts of suicide on their communities; a group of survivors who lost loved ones to suicide; a group of support workers who work with issues around suicide; and a group of people who have personally experienced suicidality in their lives. The culmination of the project was a month long public exhibition of the participants’ masks, writings, and videos of the process held at the Museum. There was also a screening of Yehudit Silverman’s award winning film The Hidden face of Suicide (www.yehuditsilverman.com).
This was a unique and far-reaching exhibition that for the first time presented works by diverse communities affected by suicide. The public response was overwhelming and viewers had an opportunity to respond with their own art and writings.