A Starry Day for Mental Health

The most well-known of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings, Starry Night, offers a view to a tumultuous landscape and restless sky.  Those I’ve introduced the picture to frequently cite its unique ability to engage the emotions as its most profound feature.  Very often, its unsettled character is linked with the persona of the artist, whom we happen to know lived a deeply troubled life.  Therefore, Starry Night stands in as a symbol in popular imagination for Van Gogh’s creativity in direct relation to the mental health issues he suffered from.

Starry Day, put on by the self-help groups at Hong Fook Mental Health Association, is an artistic celebration that infuses a note of empowerment into this image, turning it effectively on its head.  Over the past four weeks I have worked with an amazing group at Hong Fook’s downtown location, creating 3D stars for the event.  Representing the “guiding lights” of clients, one side of the stars represents the past or present of recovery narratives, with the other pointing to the positive place that they are moving towards.  Responses to the activity have been truly overwhelming, as is clear by the series of thoughtful and gorgeous images coming forth from the process.

While made to hang in North York Chinese Baptist Church, where Starry Day will take place, these works of art are much more than decoration, speaking powerfully to challenges encountered and insights gained along personal journeys of recovery.

While our project is certainly unique, our group is but one among many there who will be performing, displaying crafts, and talking about issues of well-being in mental health.  Stars will be sold as fundraising items both at Starry Day and thereafter -so I’ll make the full list of designs available to my readership and start taking orders after the event’s conclusion!  Stars themselves are made of a sturdy but transparent plastic, and with a mini craft LED inserted you have a beautiful and glowing holiday gift.

I am grateful to Annie Tse, my co-facilitator and mentor since my time at Hong Fook began in July – Annie, it’s been tonnes of fun working with you!  Also hugely appreciated is Doris Yang, who has supported our project every step of the way.

Finally, a great big thanks to Daniel TehranPour of Danielz Group for facilitating our printing needs!

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