Chris Shoust: Communicating With The Mentally Ill

By Phil Anderson

Chris Shoust: Communicating With The Mentally Ill
Process Gallery – Gallery 1313
July 7-18, 2011

Chris Shoust remembers drawing and writing about the world around him at an early age.

He studied journalism in Windsor, Ontario, worked in radio and then in print in Sault Ste Marie. He continued to purse art and writing in Victoria , B.C. and later in Saskatchewan where he continued his journalism . He received his BFA in Sault Ste Marie and continued to paint.

In his early twenties Shoust experienced mental illness and this was about to bring out this body of work – Communicating With The Mentally Ill. Shoust, still practising his journalistic talents   communicates  now through his art,  sharing this experience.

Shoust joked with me saying” the more his art practise grows the more primitive his work appears “. His early work incorporated more realism. The messages in these recent works are not simplistic but effective in sharing the experiences of mental illness. Everything from housing issues to sexual dysfunction for the mentally challenged are addressed in this exhibit.

Many of the works are colourful and pleasing to look at, occasionally using layers and mixing up the media while others are more graphically disturbing. Shoust displays his talent at putting together these graphic images and colour works. The exhibit was mounted in less of a traditional  gallery setting stacking the work and mounting it with push pins. The artist statement was handwritten to fit with the rest of the installation. There were no titles for the individual works. Shoust used various icons in his work to depict and communicate his experience with mental  illness . He effectively draws the viewer into his experience with these images. The whole exhibit with some fifty works was both imposing and powerful.

Shoust continues to work as an artist in Sault Ste. Marie. More works of his can be viewed at www.chrisshoust.com

Communicating with the Mentally Ill was generously supported by the Ontario arts Council

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