TORONTO, Ont. –
Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia cause havoc on the lives of people living with the diagnosis and their loved ones. Shayla Bond of Toronto, originally from Kentville, turned to art to encapsulate what she described as the "slow fad in the complicated mind of Alzheimer's."
Mental health is an important focus for Obligation, which maintains a balance in life by utilizing her enormous creativity and managing her attention deficit disorder (ADD) and the stressful demands of her career. The ability to spread awareness of mental illness through art resonated with her.
"First the shapes are clear in the art. They are silhouettes of things," Bond said, describing his artwork to Kings County News by phone call. "The brain uses logic to fill the negative space, but slowly, as it disappears into space. Alzheimer's, you can see the shapes change and ambiguous. "
This gradual ambiguity creates confusion and anxiety – emotions associated with the suffering of those living with Alzheimer's.
"Using art to raise awareness about mental health also parallels the benefits of art therapy to patients with Alzheimer's, encouraging them to use the right side of their brain," Bond said. "It all came quite naturally and I'm happy as it turned out."
Each of these images she created is appropriately painted on a brain sculpture.
This painted brain sculpture is one of the many arranged in one of Toronto's largest urban green spaces.
Bond is one of 50 artists whose work is exhibited in Trinity-Bellwoods Park and in other public spaces in Toronto. They are all participants in the Yogen Früz Brain Project.
The painted brain is one of many brainstems exhibited in various parts of Toronto through August 31.
The project is a rational cry for boosting brain health and promoting research into aging and dementia.
The Baycrest Foundation, the company behind the initiative, has partnered with local and international artists and celebrities to create ways of thinking, to raise awareness among people about the importance of brain health.
564,000 Canadians are living with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. According to the Baycrest Foundation, dementia is not an inevitable or natural consequence of aging. There are many ways to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Baycrest is investigating early detection techniques for dementia. It is a Brainstallations project that helps raise awareness and support its research.
The concept of her artwork came to Bond quickly, naturally – and spontaneously.
"I already had a concept instead when I started, and usually when I paint I just go in without much concept," Bond said. "I'm just going where my mind takes me."
The project took about a week to complete, starting from stenciled-in designs, painting in, and possibly the matte finish.
Bond, who works full time as a freelance graphic designer, has focused on two things from her day job to creating her project; her affinity for the art, and the stress and anxiety of her line of work.
"Stress and anxiety are, you might say, a pandemic. People know them in today’s workplace, ”Bono said.
Although most professional work is web and graphic design, she has always liked traditional painting. This led to her decision to paint the design with which she appeared.
"I'm always hyperactive with ADD, so I have trouble concentrating," Bond said.
This problem of concentration diminishes very quickly when Bond paints, as she is able to turn away from the roar and acceleration of her daily thoughts and concentrate on the task at hand.
"When I'm painting, there's a drastic change in my overall movements and it's one of the few times it's not easy to notice if I'm in the room," Bond said with a smile. "I focus only on the perfect line or shape."
She loves strange compositions and plays with color studies when painting traditionally.
"I don't ruminate when I paint. I meditate and focus," Bono said. "I slow down painting."
Bond seeks this ability to restrain itself and realizes that it is a great way to control one's own mental health, "in a way not yoga, or exercise or something that works for everyone else."
INSTRUCTIONS FOR INSPIRATION
The original inspiration for Bond's work came a whole year before she signed on to create her brain sculpture.
"I was actually interested in the project in Toronto a few years back, aligning the Trinity-Bellwoods Park entrance," Bond said. "I thought it was great, but only last year I knew you could apply."
Bond marked the date for applications to be accepted the following year.
"With ADD, it's all about" routine, routine, routine. "I note everything down and make sure the date was on the calendar," Bond said.
“I thought the project was a great way to give back to the community expressively. The use of art to direct attention to an important issue is a wonderful direct experience. "
The feedback on her project was unanimously positive, and "wonderful," Bond said.
"I'm glad I chose to participate and spread the message and raise money. I felt like participating in something like this promotes preventative measures we can take," she said. "Art can form a regularly functioning brain and benefit those with Alzheimer's and dementia."
Shayla Bond's brain sculpture is one of many participating in the selection. To vote for her artwork, visit http://www.brainproject.ca/2019-artists/