Local artist Susannah Smith has lived in the New Toronto Area for nearly a decade, with Colonel Samuel Smith Park only a few moments away. The park, surrounding landscape, and rich heritage offer both an artistic draw and reflective space for her.
Butterflies are deeply symbolic to Susannah and her maternal family, and are a key focus in interpreting her expression of her mental health journey.
Explore Susannah's story in her own words, illustrated by an expansive kaleidoscope of over 75 paintings in the Third Floor Gallery of the Lakeshore Grounds Intepretive Centre.
Moments from the Exhibition:
Good evening, and thank you all for coming tonight to celebrate the closing of my first solo art exhibit. I am so incredibly grateful to be given this opportunity. This exhibit could not have been put on by a more supportive and understanding team. I also want to express my gratitude to Nadine for her and her crew being so supportive and the most excited that I have ever seen about butterflies. That truly made this exhibit a huge success. The marketing team and amazing designers for coming up with the book idea and being so ready to use purple as the theme thank you for being the cherry on top. You all worked tirelessly to ensure that this exhibit was a success and you nailed it.
When I sent Nadine and her team the narrative behind these 76 paintings they were all ready to post my intense story straight on their walls without a second thought. It has been nothing short of humbling the interest about the small peek into a snapshot of my life living with mental illness. The butterflies are very important to me. They have a visual representation of my story and the impact of the two very different sides of my reality. I know firsthand the impact that mental illness can have on a person's life, and I'm committed to doing everything in my power to help others who are also struggling. I want to thank the interpretative center for shining a light on the importance of mental health. The work and exhibits you all hold space for is truly inspiring, and I'm honored to be a part of it.
I also want to thank my colleagues in the mental health community, who work tirelessly to support and empower individuals who are struggling. Your dedication to this cause is truly remarkable. I want to acknowledge all those directly who have struggled with mental health issues. You are not alone, there is help available. Please know that you are deserving of love, support, and care. This exhibit is not just a recognition of my work, but of the collective efforts of everyone who is working to destigmatize mental illness and promote mental wellness. When we all work together, we can make a difference.
Before I bring this speech to close I want to leave you if a few parting thoughts. First remember that no matter where you are in your journey you have the potential to make a positive impact on the world. Second embrace diversity inclusivity in all aspects of your life and seek out the opportunity to learn from those who experience perspectives different from your own. Finally be kind be curious and be courageous in all that you do.
thank you again for being a part of this incredible event I wish you all the best in your future and I look forward to seeing the positive changes that we can bring. Let's continue to celebrate and support the arts in our community.
- Susannah Smith, 2023