Authored by Trixie Maybituin

Trixie with Lisa Obirek, the Studio Facilitator at Artbeat Studio.

On Thursday afternoon, the Human Rights Hub sat down with Lisa Obirek, the new Studio Facilitator at Artbeat Studio. Artbeat Studio is an inspirational organization in Winnipeg that focuses on the connection between mental health and creativity – a message first shared by the founder of the organization, Nigel Bart. Bart first found solace in making pottery to cope with his mental health back in 2004. Seventeen years later, Artbeat Studio currently houses seven artists in residence – all of whom work together collaboratively and support each other using the power of art.

World Mental Health Day was October 10th. Artbeat Studio took over the Hub’s Instagram account on October 6th to raise awareness about mental health and creativity. For many of us, art is therapeutic, transformative, and inspirational; it is a method to cope with our mental health challenges. What is amazing about Artbeat Studio is that it is a safe space where many artists use art as a form of catharsis, hobby, or passion. And there are many ways that Artbeat Studio fosters this creative space.

There are currently seven artists in residence at Artbeat Studio. Each of the artists has their own studio space in the building. Each studio space is provided with an electronic adjustable desk, filing cabinet, storage unit, and easel. Art materials and references are provided by the studio. Lisa emphasizes the importance of having this safe space for the individuals at Artbeat Studio. This studio space is the artist’s own, and it is evident by the diverse styles, colours, and patterns on the walls that separate each studio. What is beautiful about each studio space is that it holds different stories of challenges and struggles, but, at Artbeat Studio, the space also narrates a story of resilience and survival.

Another activity celebrating positivity is Art Share, a collaborative activity between artists in residence to share the early stages of their creative process in a safe space. Lisa notes that having a safe space is important because it is a “vulnerable thing to share your artwork.” The collaboration between the artists in residence is inspirational. Lisa says that they have an activity on Fridays called “Cheers to the Weekend.” They share a non-alcoholic beverage, and the group discusses their intention or hope for the weekend in one word. This activity is a method of re-narrating what was once a potentially dangerous habit for some artists.

We all experience mental health challenges. Unfortunately, these challenges are not always recognized by the people around us. Artbeat Studio fosters a creative, positive, and safe space where people of diverse backgrounds transform their stress and anxiety into creativity. Artists at Artbeat Studio work collaboratively and independently with the same goal of overcoming mental health challenges.

“Tomorrow’s Song” by Lisa Obirek

Lisa coped with the stress of the 2020 US Elections by creating an art piece primarily created with acrylic and glow paint. Though Lisa originally envisioned the outcome to be enraged and depressing, Lisa describes this piece during our conversation as hopeful. She explains, “When hope is lost, when there’s not too much to care for in the future, if you can see people being creative, if you see a kid making a song and experimenting with that kind of creativity, there’s hope. As long as people can imagine a dream, there’s hope.”

A collaborative piece by the artists-in-residence which represents the artists’ accessibility needs in the studio.
Trixie with Ksenia Broda-Milian, the executive assistant at Artbeat Studio.