Sister Betty Lou’s Farewell to Creative Works Studio
On Dec. 1, 2011, at the annual CWS Art Exhibit, Sr. Betty Lou Knox bade goodbye to Creative Works Studio after 13 years in ministry there. When asked what her role was, Sr. Betty Lou did not hesitate, "I was there to support the dream."
The dream was to have a welcoming place where those with mental health issues could come, feel safe, have a community and use art in their healing. Isabel Fryszberg, an occupational therapist and practicing artist, founded the studio in 1997 as a healing refuge that would provide community on an ongoing basis and is now open five days a week.
Supporting the dream involved Sr. Betty Lou being present to those who came, and all the behind-the-scenes actions to keep this dream afloat during the frequent moves, expansions, art shows, fundraising events and efforts to raise the profile of mental health issues.
In her talk, Sr. Betty Lou spoke of an immediate resonance with Isabel during her initial interview, "I realized that here was a woman with a vision and she was on fire with a mission… Isabel was breaking new ground with an innovative art-centered program…I have experienced growth in all of us in this community where we are inspired, nourished and respected for who we are." For her part, Isabel spoke of Sr. Betty Lou’s "strength, guidance and the belief in the possibility of creativity" which meant so much to CWS.
Sr. Betty Lou recalled the public education "highs" experienced by Creative Works: visits by James Bartleman (then Lieutenant Governor) and Michael Kirby (at that time Chair of the Mental Health Commission engaged in a national study of mental health issues), exhibits at city hall, numerous articles and even an upcoming documentary, "What’s Art Got To Do With It?" that will soon be ready for viewing.
Creative Works acknowledged Sr. Betty Lou’s contribution by establishing the Betty Lou Award for an outstanding volunteer, this year given to Ron Bolten who comes from Port Perry every week to share his creative gifts with participants and stretch canvases for them.
"My hear burns with many memories," said Sr. Betty Lou, "as I leave CWS with a grateful heart."
By Gisela Côté
For more about Sr. Betty Lou: