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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 October 15 to October 29
October 7, 2020
By Ursula Leonowicz, BA 97

The exhibition will be on display until October 29. | 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-exhibition, will take place October 15 to October 29, 2020.

Initially scheduled for March and postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Parle-moi d'amour is moving forward with a new formula: the auction will take place entirely online and the exhibition will be accessible to visitors for free, by appointment, at 100 Sherbrooke St. East, suite 4000. The virtual auction begins October 15 at 8 a.m. and closes October 29 at 8 p.m.

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 850 people at 17 locations across Quebec.

Manon Gauthier | Photo: Paul Ducharme

“We are delighted that the new online format for the auction is so accessible,” says 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.

For Gauthier, 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’

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 | Photo: Jean-Michael Seminaro

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

Other alumni contributing their time to the cause include Laura Regev, BA 05, MA 10; 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

Entrance to the exhibition is free this year and admission is limited — by appointment only — due to social distancing regulations. Throughout the exhibition, team members will be on site to welcome visitors, guide them through their visit and introduce them to the organization.

“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.

Laura Regev

“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, BA 05, MA 10, a photographer by profession and workshop facilitator for Les Impatients. “It opens its doors to people who find themselves isolated from society and tells them they can stay for as long as they want.”

Book your appointment to visit the exhibition through the Les impatients website. Visits are limited to four people at a time, to respect physical distancing.

A workshop at Les Impatients’ studio.


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