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With a boost from Concordia grads, Les Impatients is at the vanguard of therapeutic art

The non-profit’s annual Parle-moi d’amour auction-exhibition runs from March 19 to April 1 at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
March 11, 2020
By Ursula Leonowicz, BA 97

Please note that the vernissage and closing night events mentioned in the story have been cancelled.

Les Impatients The exhibit Nous will be on display at Les Impatients’ gallery until May 23. | Photo: Denise Barria Photography

Les Impatients, a group that marshals the therapeutic power of art to enhance the lives of those afflicted by mental illness, is set to launch the 22nd edition of its highly anticipated flagship event. It’s doing so with a little help from some notable Concordia grads.

Parle-moi d’amour, an annual fundraiser-exhibit, will take place at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) from March 19 to April 1, 2020.

More than 330 works of art — some donated by collectors, some by Les Impatients participants and professional artists made specifically for the event — will be on display and up for auction. The group hopes to raise $200,000 to help finance the free weekly workshops it holds every year for 750 people at 17 locations across Quebec.

For Manon Gauthier, BA 97, executive director of the Jean Paul Riopelle Foundation and chair of Les Impatients’ honorary committee — whose membership also includes Concordia’s chief communications officer, Philippe Beauregard — the organization’s work is personal. Gauthier lost her mother more than a decade ago after a long struggle with mental illness.

“Les Impatients helped me cope with the tragedy, gave me hope and allowed me, for the first time, to talk openly about her suicide.”

‘A one-of-a-kind exhibit’

Manon Gauthier Manon Gauthier | Photo: Paul Ducharme

This year’s edition of Parle-moi d’amour marks the second time the MAC has hosted the event.

“Visitors to the museum will be lucky to have access to an additional exhibit for free, a one-of-a-kind exhibit with pieces that cater to a variety of tastes,” says Laura Regev, BA 05, MA 10, a photographer by profession and workshop facilitator for Les Impatients.

Like Regev, Mélissa Sokoloff, MA 08, facilitates creative workshops for Les Impatients and also teaches art therapy at Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT). She’s been involved with Les Impatients since 2002.

“An art therapist understands the profound reactions we can have while making art, so we help facilitate that in constructive and positive ways,” says the Creative Arts Therapies graduate. “Art can be very powerful but it can be scary sometimes, too.”

Concordia connections

Mélissa Sokoloff Mélissa Sokoloff | Photo: Jean-Michael Seminaro

Gauthier, Regev and Sokoloff are far from the only Concordians involved in Parle-moi d’amour.

Other alumni contributing their time to the cause include Jennifer Alleyn, BFA 94; Dominique Blain, BFA 79; Pete Bouchard, BFA 13; Carole Leblanc, GrCert 07; Jonathan Moyal, BA 05; Marie-Claude Pratte, BFA 85; and Emily Robertson, BFA 04, MA 07.

“There’s definitely something about Concordia that leads to greater community involvement,” says Gauthier. “The university is also a pioneer in Creative Arts Therapies, bridging the gap between the arts and health care, and reinforcing the impact of artistic expression on general well-being. The fit with Les Impatients’ mission is a natural one”

Goals for 2020

Laura Regev Laura Regev

This year’s Parle-moi d’amour exhibit, which includes a free vernissage on March 19 at 5:30 p.m. and a silent auction throughout, will close with a special event on April 1.

Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased on the event website. Organizers have worked diligently to ensure a good turnout.

“My role is to reach as many people as possible and to appeal to their generosity so that, together with our stellar honorary committee, we can reach our financial objective,” says Gauthier, who hopes to eclipse the $182,000 raised over the course of Parle-moi d’amour’s 2019 run.

2020 is a big year for Les Impatients, adds Sokoloff.

“We recently opened two new art studios at the CHUM — one in the oncology department and one for young people suffering from mental disorders.”

Les Impatients has also made a mark beyond Montreal, with requests from groups in Nantes, Paris and New York who are keen to know more about the organization’s novel approach to therapeutic art.

“Les Impatients shows the great benefits creativity can offer,” says Laura Regev. “It opens its doors to people who find themselves isolated from society and tells them they can stay for as long as they want.”

Les Impatients A workshop at Les Impatients’ studio.

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