Copies of Artbeat Studio’s annual publication, presented at Red River College on Oct. 5, 2017./ZOE MILLS.

On Thursday, October 5, three of Kathleen Crosby’s paintings sat in front of the Tim Hortons in Red River College’s South Atrium. If these acrylics caught your eye as you anxiously awaited your caffeine fix, Crosby hopes they inflicted a sense of optimism.


“I’m a very spiritual person and that comes out in my art. Naturally, the colours I pick are very hopeful,” said Crosby.


Crosby presented the photos as part of Artbeat Studio’s exhibit for Mental Health Awareness Week. The artist credits the local organization for bringing her hope after she was admitted to the psychiatric facility at St. Boniface Hospital in 2009.


Founded in 2005 by Nigel Bart, Artbeat Studio works to erase the stigma around mental illness and encourages rehabilitation through art.


Bart was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was a teenager. He and his family created Artbeat Studio to give a voice to those living with mental illness.


Artbeat offers a free, six-month “Artist-in-Residency” program for people living with mental illness. The program requires individuals to submit an art profile and references. Crosby, an aspiring artist, submitted her work and was chosen, along with eight others, to participate in the residency program.


“Many people leave (the program) identifying as artists,” said Christine Strike, Community Projects Coordinator for Artbeat Studio.


Strike said she has seen the program improve participants’ self-esteem.


The organization releases an annual publication featuring that year’s 18 participants. Each artist gets an artist bio and shares photos of his or her best work.


In 2011, Crosby was invited to paint an 11-ft tryptic for the Manitoba Adolescent Treatment Centre on Tecumseh Street. Crosby spent five month painting the piece.


Crosby said she is proud to share her art. Her work is featured at Pulse Gallery at The Forks and her 63 Albert Street studio is opened to the public during First Fridays.


Artbeat has helped hundreds of Winnipeggers over its twelve years in operation. The six-month program is exclusive but Artbeat’s Studio Central opens its doors to anyone suffering from mental illness. The 444 Kennedy Street studio hosts workshops and musical performances, presented by volunteers and Artbeat patrons.