7th Annual Touched By Fire Art Show and Sale: Fantastic!

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The 7th Annual Touched By Fire Art Show & Sale was held at Artscape Wychwood Barns on November 26, 2013 and as usual, it was a fabulous event! MDAO Chair of the Board, Sharon Cohen extended her thanks to staff and volunteers on a “very elegant and well organized Touched by Fire evening” and said, “the venue was lovely, the food and drinks divine, the music fabulous and the art… wonderful.” Over 90 works of art by 60 artists were on display. Work was juried into the show by Stan Olthus, Phillip Woolf, and Steven Schwartz, who selected from over 420 works of art submitted this year by 120 artists.

Touched By Fire attracted two new sponsors this year. Art material retailers Above Ground Art and Deserres came on board with in-kind donations of art materials for award recipients. Sharon Cohen said, “No charity makes an event like this live for 7 years without the ongoing support of far-sighted sponsors and partners. We thank every single one of the many corporate sponsors who support our work and this event.” Sharon made special note of Raymond James as a stalwart friend saying, “Raymond James has given money and volunteer support to Touched By Fire from the outset and they have continued to support this program for all these years as presenting sponsor, and this year as sponsor of the Artist Awards.  Long before other corporate citizens, Raymond James and particularly Peter Kahnert saw the importance of educating the public about mental health issues through anti-stigma activities. And for that we express our deepest gratitude.”  

The Touched By Fire Promising Student Award was presented to Allison Long for her painting He Has a Name.  Annette Seip received the Best Emerging Artist Award for her photograph Learning to Love, and the Juror’s Choice Award went to Claudette Abrams for her photograph Yellow Couch. Congratulations to this years award recipients!

Videographers from Mastercard International were also present at the Touched By Fire Art Show and Sale to interview some of the artists and MDAO volunteers as part of a documentary they’re creating to highlight the cultures of kindness and generosity in supportive communities in Toronto. We were also delighted that Toronto City Councillor Joe Mihevc stopped by.

Ann Marie Mac Donald, MDAO Executive Director & CEO notes that Artscape Wychwood Barns is the fourth venue for the Art Show and Sale. The first two years were at Gladstone Hotel, a popular exhibition space located in the heart of the Queen West Art and Design District, in over-packed rooms. In 2009/10 the exhibition was held at the Royal Ontario Museum with even larger crowds. In 2011/12, Touched By Fire was held at the Cooper’s Fine Art Gallery, a space generously donated by the Cooper family who are strong supporters of MDAO. 

Ann Marie said, “all of the different venues bring a different ambience to the evening, but one thing stays the same, and that’s the magic in the room that happens when people come together to celebrate the creativity and talent of these artists.” 

She said, “Touched By Fire engages people in conversations that raise awareness of mood disorders and diminish stigma, precisely because there are no limits to the creativity and talent of these individuals. Touched By Fire artists choose to ‘come out’ through the Touched By Fire online gallery and the Art Show and Sale to make a public statement of lived experience and we applaud them for that because speaking out, becoming an advocate for mental health, and insisting on compassionate understanding and equitable treatment are all part of the recovery journey.”

Indeed, some artists took the opportunity to speak up about the impact Touched By Fire has had on their lives, through a ‘speaker’s corner’ at the event. We invite you to visit the Touched By Fire Facebook page or the Touched By Fire website for more photos of the event and to view the videos – which will be posted… soon!

Touched By Fire – TD at the Ritz Carlton Hotel

Just three days after the main event, MDAO also participated in Removing Barriers and Opening Doors sponsored by TD’s People with Disabilities Steering Committee and  TD’s Diversity Leadership Council with a smaller, private juried Touched By Fire exhibition at their event with was attended by over 400 TD staff on Nov. 29th. Over 30 paintings were displayed. MADO staff were assisted by TD staff-volunteers to organize and set up the event. Thank you all! And thank you TD for a fabulous opportunity to present the work of Touched By Fire artists at a conference emphasizing the capability and ability of all.

Those who attended the TD conference were inspired (and many of us brought close to tears) by Caroline Casey, the fabulous and witty activist and founding CEO of Kanchi in Dublin. Caroline shared the story of her extraordinary life, with some surprising revelations. And in a talk that challenges perceptions, asked us all to move beyond the limits that we may think we have. Her point: disability is about attitude; ‘othering’ people isn’t helpful; and to change the way society behaves we have to change the way it thinks.  Casey is eloquent about her desire to live in a world where every single person is included and can actively participate irrespective of difference. PS. Caroline Casey’s TED talk is well worth watching!

It's been an exciting month for Touched By Fire. Visit again soon, for more program news!

Touched By Fire is a peer support program that celebrates the work of artists with lived experience of a mood disorder, challenges them to personal and professional development, and provides opportunities to exhibit and promote their work. The program emphasizes emerging artist development and community involvement through an online gallery and the annual juried exhibition; social-recreational outreach for non-or-beginning artists through art classes led by Touched By Fire artists, and peer support for artists with mood disorders.