Crossroads is an exhibition brought by Blood Tie Four Directions Centre. The exhibitions features the works of results of a workshop from individuals at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, bringing awareness to World Hepatitis Day held on July 28th, 2015.

Blood Ties Four Direction Centre has made a strong stance in community engagement in assuring health and social equality for all. Blood Ties encourages communication, education, and promote self-help, counselling and therapies, and confidentiality, and work to eliminate discrimination and stigma. We are enlightened by Blood Ties goals in the Crossroads exhibition.  Blood Ties Four Directions Centre mission is to “eliminate barriers and create opportunities for people to have equal access to health and wellness and to live in our community with dignity” and we can see that mission stands strong in the Yukon Arts Centre Community Gallery.

On display are drawings and paintings created by artists who have experience with incarceration. Each artist depicts their own experience, feelings, understanding of the connections between Hepatitis C and incarceration.
In the intimate show, you see moments of inspiration, acceptance, and empowerment. You are confronted by the truth of the artist.

We spoke with Executive Director of Blood Ties Four Directions, Patricia Bacon, to get a closer look into the Crossroads exhibition.

How did Crossroads come about?
Our agency wanted to do something memorable to mark World Hepatitis Day (July 28). We work frequently with the people who are incarcerated at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre by way of providing education and prevention in HIV and Hepatitis C, as well as support services to people who have HIV and/or HepC at the jail. One of the things we noticed was that many of the people at the jail had wonderful artistic talents and abilities. Part of our work is reducing discrimination and stigma and one of the ways to do that is to help people see the whole person – not just the person’s “status” (e.g. a person in jail or a person with HepC). Having an art show is a great way to do many important things: 1) showcase the wonderful talents of some of the people in jail; 2) to reduce stigma and help the layperson see the whole person not just an “incarcerated” person; 3) to start a conversation about the interconnections between being in jail and Hepatitis C. Rates of hepatitis C are between 20 to 30% in Canadian jails and prisons. So it is important to acknowledge that and talk about it.

How was the project executed with the artists?
The project started with our Health Education Coordinator visiting the people in jail and providing them with prevention education about HepC and also discussing with them the stigma and discrimination that is often experienced by a person who is HepC positive and those similarities to the stigma experienced by people who are in jail. Then she introduced the project concept and invited anyone in the jail to participate. Blood Ties was able to provide the artists with art supplies and a small honorarium for their pieces. We are grateful to AbbVie Inc. for their unrestricted educational grant to make this event possible. 

What was the response (staff and/or participants, etc) in doing art to reflect?
The response to the invitation to submit art work was really terrific. We weren’t sure how many people at the jail would be willing to participate. We were very happy that in the end we are able to showcase 10 artists and a total of 13 pieces.

Why the title Crossroads?
Crossroads: Connections between Hepatitis C and Incarceration is a great title – we think – because we wanted something that talks about the intersectionality between two very stigmatizing conditions: living with hepatitis C and being in jail. Both of those conditions carry huge stigmas and can lead to feelings of defeat, despair, hopelessness, and anger. They can also move an individual to a renewed sense of purpose, empowerment and dignity. Also, many of the behaviors that have led to a person being infected with hepatitis C are the same behaviors that land them in jail namely illicit drug use. So it’s important to talk about that intersection as well.

It's your last chance to view Crossroads at the Community Art Gallery, the show ends August 2nd. 

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