For this month, Winnipeg River Arts Council features visual artist Joye Platford. A few years ago, she returned to her hometown of Pinawa after living in Ontario, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. Since her return, she has become involved in the local arts community, as a member of the Pinawa Art Gallery (Art 211) and Winnipeg River Arts Council.
In 2009, she lived through serious cancer challenges and making art was part of her healing. After her treatments, she decided she was going to look into art therapy, but it was only offered in Winnipeg and there was a two year wait list. With her degrees in education and theology, she found employment in the Eastman area doing church work, teaching, and offering recreational art classes for children, adults and seniors.
Despite the distance and wait list obstacles, Platford managed to pursue her dream, and, in November, 2018, she graduated as an art therapist, which is a mental health professional who uses counselling and art to help people deal with emotional and psychological challenges. Platford said, “All my life, I used art-making to sort out my thoughts. And now I have completed a dream that I had for over 15 years.”
Platford took her training through Winnipeg Holistic Expressive Art Therapy (WHEAT) Institute at St. Norbert Center for the Arts. Art therapy works because people often experience difficulties in life but they might not be able to express their feelings about these difficulties in words. Instead, they can express them through art making. She said, “Art therapy brings together all aspects of my life, art, healing, spirituality, counselling, and personal growth.”
Platford offers art therapy in Pinawa and Beausejour. In Pinawa, she works through the art gallery. In Beausejour, she works at 708 Park Avenue. She said, “I wanted to stay in the rural area to provide the needed services.
Platford explains that a person does not have to be artistic to do art therapy. It is about relaxation, release, symbolism, expression of emotions, trauma resolution, and restoration of hope. She said, “I’ve seen amazing results with children-in-care, seniors with dementia, and people working on mental health challenges, self-care, addictions, and family issues.
In Beausejour, she offers classes for children and youth on Thursdays and a women’s group on Wednesday nights, and plans to start a Wednesday morning group. Also, she does individual sessions with all ages, in Pinawa or Beausejour. On March 13-15, she will be offering a women’s retreat at Moon Gate Guest House near Elma. She can be contacted through her website, www.joyezart.com or call/ text (204) 459-0355.