Laurie Dobbs White, from left, Kolee Bakker, and Jackie Waugh display some of Bakker’s paintings she created through the Lead With Your Heart art therapy program. The group’s participants will be hosting an art show at the Nova Scotia Community College Truro campus’ McCarthy Gallery for the month of February. Raissa Tetanish – Hub Now

TRURO – For the month of February, feelings will be adorning the walls of the McCarthy Gallery in Truro.

The Lead With Your Heart peer support group is hosting an art show, featuring the works of participants in an art therapy program lead by Jackie Waugh. The exhibit’s opening celebration will be held at the gallery on Feb. 11, 2-4 p.m.

For Kolee Bakker, there was no hesitation in participating in the exhibit, which will be held at the gallery at the Nova Scotia Community College Truro campus. She will have roughly eight pieces on display.

“I’ve come such a long way in a very short time, and it all has to do with who I surrounded myself with,” said Bakker. “I’ve had so many changes recently. I completed started over from scratch, and this is a whole new world for me. It’s been awesome. It could have been very negative, but it’s been so positive.”
Laurie Dobbs White is one of the facilitators of Lead With Your Heart, and said art is incorporated into the group’s mandate.
“Art is all about what Lead With Your Heart started with,” she said. “We want to keep that mandate rolling.”
Waugh has been very outspoken about how art has helped her heal from a past domestic abusive relationship. The peer support group brought her on to lead the art therapy classes. So far, there have been four rounds offered, at four weeks at a time.

“It’s usually full, with about 10 people,” said Waugh.

Bakker had heard about the peer support group and learned about the art therapy program while attending one of the regular monthly meetings. She signed up and hasn’t looked back since.

“To be in a group with 10 other women, I wasn’t sure how I would be accepted into the group,” she admitted. “I didn’t know how that would go. But that in itself has been amazing. And through the art therapy program, I can completely zone out. I don’t hear anything. That just puts you in a head space that’s so comforting.”
Waugh said those words are often echoed by many of the other participants.

“It’s been a healthy way to let my anxiety and stress out. It’s been great,” said Bakker.

With Waugh’s sister working at the gallery, the two were discussing the possibility of the art show and thought it was a great idea.

“Participants can do this anonymously if they want,” said Waugh. “And they have the option of putting a price on their pieces if they so choose. Personally, I have never sold any of the original 40 paintings I did. I just can’t. There’s no way my mind could ever go back there. It’s like a purging.”

Dobbs White said the participants have been excited for the art program and the exhibit.

“It’s one of the best things we’ve done with the group,” she said.

Any donations or sales through the exhibit are set to go back to the participants, or the Lead With Your Heart group to continue offering classes. The art therapy program will continue, and resume when 10 participants are signed up.

For more information on Lead With Your Heart and what is offered, contact Laurie Dobbs White at 902-895-2786.