- September 12, 2017
For Katya De Luisa, art is more than just aesthetically pleasing. For her, it’s a window into the inner workings of the mind — and a way to tap into spirituality.
This Tuesday, Jan. 17, she and fellow artist Elisabeth Trostli will celebrate the opening reception of their art exhibit, “Infinite Mind,” which is a collaboration with the Players Centre for Performing Arts and will benefit the Neuro Challenge Foundation.
The reception precedes the theater’s production of “Sweet Charity,” but the artwork will remain on display through Feb. 7. Half of the show’s sales will go to the Neuro Challenge Foundation, and both artists will also donate one work to be raffled, with 100% of those sales benefiting the nonprofit Parkinson’s organization.
De Luisa says the work will display the connection she sees between creativity and mental wellness. The artist describes her work as surrealistic collages in the spirit of Salvador Dalí, which function as picture stories, using color and layering to create the illusion of a three-dimensional surface.
She’s spent the majority of the last 30 years living and working as an artist in Costa Rica, but from 2000 to 2004, she lived in the Towles Court district, where she began working with local Alzheimer’s patients. It was here she discovered a link between her passion for art and helping others.
“A lot of the people at the assisted-living facility who had mental or cognitive problems hadn’t been able to participate or communicate,” she says. “But I found that with creating collages, everyone could participate, if they had a companion. It became a way for them to communicate.”
De Luisa says art allows people to access their creative side, which she says is a key component of mental health.
“It’s not just about art,” she says. “It’s about creativity, problem solving, bringing something into being and getting excited about what you’re doing. It’s a crucial part of well-being.”
During one session, she says, a man who had been unable to communicate used the collage to tell his wife, “I’m OK. I’m alive.”
This is the subject matter that permeates the 40 pieces of art she’ll display. Her collages tackle issues of the mind, the passage of time and other spiritual elements, and Trostli, who will contribute 20 pieces, creates digital mask art, which alludes to her Brazilian heritage, while also representing the metaphorical masks people wear throughout life.
“I want people to walk away from the exhibition thinking,” says De Luisa. “It’s about more than just looking pretty — a lot of my art has elements of darkness. But it’s something different, and I hope it resonates with people and opens up a new line of thought. That’s all I hope for.”