FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Fort St John Association for Community Living celebrated its third Art of Inclusion show this week, inviting North Peace residents to a March 31 open house at their downtown studio.

Sheri Ashdown, inclusion and employment program manager, says members have been excited to craft, mould, and paint for fun and self-expression.

“We just want to highlight all the artists that we have here, they really get excited about what they’re doing and have a reason to do it,” said Ashdown. “We’ve sold some of the pieces from the first show, but this one is just an open house for the enjoyment of it.”

Ashdown says art is an excellent way for anyone to express themselves, and much easier for those who struggle with language issue or speech barriers.

“What’s great about this is that it’s a way for people to express themselves, even if they have speech barriers, they can pick up a brush and put their expressions on paper,” she said.

Flowers, Van Gogh inspired art, paint pours, and self-portraits are just a few of the highlights accomplished by the members, who meet for weekly sessions at the studio on Tuesdays and Thursdays where they learn how to work with paints and pastels, linocuts and silkscreens, and other mixed-media techniques.

Artist Christine Eicher says she enjoys working with pastels, but prefers acrylic paints most of the time.

“I’ve been working with acrylics a lot more, they’re a little easier to work with compared to pastels,” she said. “We used mirrors to practice our expressions before we did the self-portraits, smiling and so on.”

Fellow artist Ryan Taylor has also been enjoying his time in the studio, and is thrilled with results of his paint pours, comparing one to thermal vision.

“I like working on anything really. Your interpretation of whatever it is, is just your interpretation, some these they look like thermal vision. I watch a lot of crime shows and this here looks like a thermal version of something,” he said.

A fourth art show is being planned, and Ashdown is excited to see members taking part in all of ACL’s spring activities, with May gardening planned at their Baldonnel farm, and bonsai tree planting with their indoor therapeutic gardening program.