All the way from Los Angeles, California, Kellie Gillespie has brought a collection of her art to Prairie Fusion Arts & Entertainment in hopes of conveying a story that so many of us share.
The stigma behind dealing with mental health is a narrative that Gillespie knows about well and is something she is looking to help change with her art.
"As someone who has a long-standing history with her own mental health struggles, to be able to install a room full of art that's been, somewhat heavily criticized over the years, it has been an emotional experience, to say the least," says Gillespie.
The American Artist, who has a Master's of Fine Arts Degree in sculpture from the Rinehart School of Sculpture in Maryland, hopes viewers of the artwork take away the feeling of not being alone in their struggle and battle.
"This idea that so many of us are dealing with similar issues. It's really a community out there of people that can support each other and this overwhelming sensation of being heard for the first time and being seen."
The main piece on display at Prairie Fusion Arts & Entertainment is called O̶v̶e̶r̶/Medicated/U̶n̶d̶e̶r̶. The mesmerizing creation took Gillespie three years to complete and is fabricated from 6000 prescription bottles.
"I think coming and seeing the work and sitting with it can really be a healing journey for someone who's maybe not quite ready to talk about their own struggles themselves. I hope anyone who walks into the room really feels heard and seen."
Gillespie travelled to the City of Possibilities on Canada Day for her first visit to the Great White North to see her work on display.
"It's honestly such a beautiful, quiet little town. I loved how everyone kind of knew everyone. It seemed like a really strong community," the Artist continues. "You know, there is something about Portage that you have this small town. And so, admittedly, you assume that it's small-town thinking, and that's not the case. It's a very progressive little city."
Lee Beaton, manager of gallery operations at Prairie Fusion Arts & Entertainment, tells PortageOnline that this is the first time they have brought an artist to Portage from outside Canada during her time at the gallery.
"We saw Kellie's work on Instagram and connected with her over a year, we talked back and forth, and we were able to successfully bring her art up here."
Beaton urges more community members to come down and appreciate this art while it is available.
"This was the first time we brought something this big up here. We're pretty excited about it. We love the message that she's presenting, and she's not only a mental health advocate but also an environmentalist. She likes to recycle and repurpose objects that are usually thrown away and make them into something that's beautiful."
Gillespie's work has been shown in private collections in many places in the United States, such as Los Angeles, Phoenix, Napa Valley, Philadelphia, Baltimore and San Francisco. Yet, the showing of Ca•thar•sis in Portage la Prairie is the first solo and international exhibition for the Artist.
The exhibit opened on July 5 and will run until September 25.
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