Works by Artists with Mental Illness Featured in Exhibition

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Monday December 5, 2011

Touched By Fire commemorates life of young artist

Toronto – Art work by more than 40 artists from Ottawa, Kingston, Barrie, Toronto,  Mississauga, Oakville, Guelph, Hamilton, Cambridge and other parts of Ontario will be featured at Touched By Fire, a Toronto art exhibition and sale showcasing works by people who are living with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or other mental illnesses. A panel of judges selected the art from more than 450 online submissions. The event’s main aim is to support and celebrate artists, and to this end artists receive 100% of the funds from the sale of their work.

“Touched By Fire celebrates the resilience, creativity and tremendous courage of artists living with a mental illness. We’re so pleased that artists from across Ontario are such a big part of the exhibition this year,” said Colleen Cowman, Executive Director, Mood Disorders Association of Ontario, the organization that hosts Touched By Fire.

Celebrating its fifth year, Touched By Fire commemorates the life of a young artist, Rebecca Burghardt, who lived with severe bipolar disorder. Rebecca studied art at the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago. This year, 10 works from Art Institute students will also be on display at Touched By Fire.  

“When starting this show five years ago, we could not have imagined how big it would become, and what a real difference it would make in the lives of artists,” said John Burghardt, Rebecca’s father. “Rebecca would be so proud of her legacy, and the way in which Touched By Fire helps to stamp out the stigma artists with mental illness face every day.”

At the exhibition, a panel of judges will award Best In Show and Best Emerging Artist, sponsored by Perimeter Development. Both awards include a $1,000 prize and a keepsake plaque.

“We’re proud to have supported Touched By Fire for the past five years, and proud of the life-changing event it has become,” said Peter Kahnert, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communications at Raymond James, the presenting sponsor of Touched By Fire. “Supporting the arts is important to Raymond James, as is supporting people living with mood disorders and those who love them.”

Touched By Fire takes place Thursday, December 8, 2011 at Coopers Fine Art Gallery (111 Bathurst Street at Adelaide) in downtown Toronto. Attendance is $10.  Tickets can be purchased online at, via phone at 1-888-486-8236 ext. 222, or at the door.

Following the exhibition, the art work will be displayed on an online gallery on the Touched By Fire website at

About the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario ( Our understanding of depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder is shaped by our lived experiences. The Mood Disorders Association serves individuals and families across Ontario by providing: awareness, education and training; family and youth clinical support; recovery programs; and, peer support


For more information, or to arrange interviews with artists, please contact:

Jennifer Foulds, Mood Disorders Association of Ontario, (416) 486-8046 ext. 232; (647) 771-5815 (cell)