Social practice public artwork shines a light on mental health and wellness

With one-in-five Canadians facing a mental health challenge and two out of three unlikely to seek help, mental illness can be a lonely place for many. One Calgary artist wanted to make a positive impact on the way mental wellness is addressed in our world.

The project, envisioned by artist Dick Averns, is titled Recognition… Validation… Reassurance… Art + Mental Wellness and was done in conjunction with The City of Calgary, SITE c PROJECTS & OBAD (Organization for Bipolar Affective Disorders).

Averns aims to improve mental wellness and reduce stigma surrounding mental illness by involving the community in making art that focuses on mental health and wellness. He led Calgarians in the creation of collages, drawings and text-based art to express themselves on the topic. The result is more than two hundred personalized artistic expressions.

“This project is based on the premise that mental health is about self-expression but is often invisible,” says Averns. “Yet visual art, which also hinges on self-expression, can make mental health visible. The key question we addressed is: How do you create a framework for mental wellness?”

In 2018 Calgarian’s artworks were displayed on billboards, at community-based pop-up exhibitions, and on Calgary Transit stops, buses and CTrains.

To mark the conclusion of the social practice public art project, this January and February more artworks will be featured on a Calgary Transit bus and at stops along the new BRT routes.

An exhibition of the artworks created by the community can be seen at cSPACE between January 22 and February 3. The City is also encouraging Calgarians to attend a bus tour and artist talk on Bell Let’s Talk Day, January 29 and a reception at cSPACE on January 30.

All events are free to attend.

January 22 to February 3
8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday
cSPACE (1721 29 Ave S.W.)

Bus Tour and Artist Talk:
Bell Let’s Talk Day – Wednesday, January 29

Presented by lead artist Dick Averns, this mobile artist talk will take place on a Calgary Transit bus. Drawings, collage and text-based art created by community participants will fill the overhead interior panels of the bus, all addressing the question “How do you create a framework for mental wellness?”

Visit for times, stop locations and to RSVP.

Exhibition Reception:
Thursday, January 30 from 5 to 8 p.m.
cSPACE (1721 29 Ave S.W.)

Refreshments provided.

For more information on the project and events, visit