Since 2015, the Musée d’art de Joliette, in collaboration with the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de Lanaudière and the Fondation pour la Santé du Nord de Lanaudière, has welcomed four groups each week to participate in creative workshops organized by Les Impatients. Led by artist Marilyne Bissonnette and social worker Sonia Ducharme, these workshops allow people with mental health challenges to use art-making as a means of emotional expression. Founded in 1992, the organization chose the name “Les Impatients” in 1999 to stress that the people who attend their workshops aren’t patients, but creators who are eager to heal, develop their art practices, and find their place in society.
By setting up a dialogue between the exhibition Smile! Emotions at Work and artworks from the Impatients collection exhibited in the museum’s common areas, we want to emphasize the importance of the care and support work of the artists who lead these workshops and the social workers who contribute to the project as a whole. Les Impatients promotes integration and a sense of community. Their objective is to value every participant, break down social isolation, and demystify the taboos around mental health. By giving space to these creative individuals, we celebrate their art and the work of everyone who accompanies them on their life’s journey.
Mental health issues are intrinsically linked to emotional health: they trigger unique emotional responses, both for people affected by these issues and for those who live with or look after them. A December 2020 survey by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec revealed a sharp increase in mental health issues among Quebecers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Youth, in particular, are experiencing increased anxiety and psychological stress. Seniors are more isolated. Job losses and the upheaval of remote working have upset work-life balance. Many families are grieving the loss of a loved one. Mental health affects everyone in different ways and in all areas of society. The pandemic has brought home the urgent need to deal with mental health issues by focusing on creating environments that are conducive to wellness in every area of life and by taking social inequality into account. Let’s remember that art can play a role in helping us get there.
Image in the banner:
Smile! Emotions at work, views from the exposition at the Musée d’art de Joliette, 2021. Photos : Romain Guilbault