Susan Aydan Abbott
Program and component
Explore and create, Research and creation
Field of practice
Grant allowed Winnipeg visual artist to explore the history of mental health
For a year ending in June 2018, Susan Abbott worked on multimedia artworks inspired by her research into the Hamilton Asylum for the Insane.
A psychiatric hospital’s past comes alive through art
Currently facing demolition, the asylum first opened its doors in 1876 and has a history of harsh treatments and patient stigmatization. Abbott was motivated to delve into this fascinating history and create an artistic record of its essence before it disappeared.
Finding her voice as an artist
Abbott had a personal connection to the project: Not only did she grow up in the area, but she has struggled with mental illness herself for as long as she can remember. Eventually, she found her voice through her art. This grant allowed her to explore the asylum’s troubling past and her own personal history at the same time—a journey that resulted in an artistic exploration of how we perceive and treat mental illness today.