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Brain injury art show good for the soul

Today is last day for exhibit at The Nina

By: Scott Hayes

  |  Posted: Saturday, Jun 14, 2014 06:00 am

AABIS SHOW – Edmonton artist and treasurer of the Alberta Artists with Brain Injury Society (AABIS) Michele Gee works on a pencil sketch at the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts on Thursday. AABIS is currently holding its annual exhibit at the gallery on 118 Street until June 15.
AABIS SHOW – Edmonton artist and treasurer of the Alberta Artists with Brain Injury Society (AABIS) Michele Gee works on a pencil sketch at the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts on Thursday. AABIS is currently holding its annual exhibit at the gallery on 118 Street until June 15.
CHRIS COLBOURNE/ST. ALBERT GAZETTE

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AABIS 11th Annual "Celebration Of Abilities" Exhibit and Sale
Runs until today
Stollery Gallery
Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts
9225 118 Avenue in Edmonton
Call 780-459-8319 or visit www.aabis.org for more information.

This is the last day to check out an exhibit of work from a group of some very uniquely talented artists.

Celebration of Abilities is the annual show by members of the Alberta Artists with Brain Injury Society. The AABIS is the non-profit group that promotes the art of brain injury survivors, helping raise community awareness about acquired brain injuries and the therapeutic benefits of doing art for those people who have those injuries.

Organizer Rebecca Mullen said that the 11-year-old organization arose out of necessity.

“It was started because a number of us noticed that once you go through the hospital – the Glenrose or whatever – there's nothing out there. So we wanted to have some continuation of our therapy,” she said. “It used to be that people had more time in the hospitals to do art. Then, with funding cuts, their time in the art room is a lot shorter. They don't get to see the benefit because it's not overnight. That's been a bit of an issue.”

“We found that art is very therapeutic not only with eye-hand coordination and a lot of our things: socially, emotionally, physically… there's all these benefits of doing art. We just love doing it anyway.”

That was the reasoning behind starting the society, so “people in the same boat” could get together. It was such a good idea at first that word spread so far aloft that membership requests were coming in from some unexpected places like Arizona and England. That's when they realized that they should add the word “Alberta” to the group's name.

Any Albertan with a brain injury can be a member. The society hosts weekly art talks for brain injury survivors on Thursdays at the Nina Haggerty Centre as well.

“We're here to stay. We're serious about this.”

This art event features the art of the society's 20 or so members although that number fluctuates. It's a good tie-in to Brain Injury Awareness Month as it shows how much those with these injuries have to offer. The group participates in other shows throughout the year as well.

“We found last year that we had three different exhibits going on simultaneously!”

In addition, The Nina sells AABIS art cards from its gift shop. Each artist receives 80 per cent of the sales. It helps to promote the organization and “it gives the artists a little bit of money.”

AABIS also has a YouTube page that offers video tutorials on art techniques. That can be found at www.youtube.com/AABISorg.


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