Stepping off of West 5th Avenue and into the dimly lit, exquisitely decorated Beaumont Studios, you could easily mistake “Re-Mind: An evening of art, music, and readings” as just another evening of music and art taking place on the busy evening of May 24th in Vancouver’s trendy Mount Pleasant neighbourhood. And in most ways, that was what it is exactly.
Featuring music, art, and readings created by local Vancouver artists, the venue was packed with friends, family, and social media groupies by 8 pm. But an observer stumbling into the festivities would never guess, every artist showcased during this evening had one other thing in common – each struggles with schizophrenia, psychosis, or serious mental illness in their lives.
And this was the driving idea behind “Re-Mind: An evening of art, music, and readings.” This celebration of the artistic accomplishments of individuals living with psychosis, schizophrenia and other severe and persistent mental illnesses is designed to break down the stigma associated with these disorders. A free, all ages event, “Re-Mind” took place as part of B.C. Schizophrenia Society’s recognition of National Psychosis and Schizophrenia Awareness Day.
This is the third year, B.C. Schizophrenia Society has been hosting this event and every year, participants and attendees leave more inspired and full of hope. One artist has revealed that it wasn’t until her parents came to this event two years ago that they began to see that they weren’t alone and that they need not be ashamed of her mental illness. After attending the first “Re-Mind,” she and her parents became closer and were able to talk about her mental illness and how it has affected them all.
This year, approximately 150 attendees were greeted by keen volunteers who handed out programs, helped guests sign in, and gave out B.C. Schizophrenia Society t-shirts, bags, and USB bracelets. Inside, purple decorations shared wall space with incredible works by visual artists Jujube Jacinto, Bryn Genelle Ditmars, Paul Goldsby, Nina Aldewood, Sandra Yuen Mackay, and Trish Cox. And tying it all together was a huge green backdrop flecked with gold letters spelling out the hashtag #schizophreniaawareness stood ready for any potential photobugs and selfie enthusiasts.
Local Indie singer Charlie Kerr took to the stage to kick off the night’s performances with a solo set inspired by his journey through mental illness. As his larger than life voice took over the room, his lyrics clearly resonated with audience members who nodded their heads in agreement in poignant moments. Then, Courage to Come Back Award Winner Erin Emiru brought the audience in for a closer look at a schizophrenia patient’s journey with a reading from her book “When Quietness Came: A Neuroscientist’s Personal Journey with Schizophrenia.”
The audience had the opportunity to ask Charlie and Erin questions during a short Q&A that followed. Allowing even the most inquisitive of people the chance to get their questions answered around mental illness.
To end the night, Charlie Kerr again took the stage, this time accompanied by his equally and exceptionally talented Hotel Mira bandmates. Exploding with energy and singing radio hits familiar to many, Kerr and Hotel Mira soon had people on their feet, including a 12-year-old fan and a retired parent, bouncing to the addictive beats.
A huge thanks to our volunteers and our sponsor the Otsuka-Lundbeck Alliance for making this possible.