Evi Blueth is best known on the Coast for her fibre art – designs from nature printed on clothing and hand-painted silk scarves. She is frequently to be seen at craft fairs and festivals selling her creations and appears to be a lively, happy artisan. You wouldn’t know to see her that she has suffered for many years from fibromyalgia, a painful, fatiguing illness.
“You don’t see me when I’m sick because I’m in bed,” she says. Many of those who suffer a chronic pain illness have given up on their lives, retiring into their smaller, less active routines. When Blueth was diagnosed, she considered that she had the choice of giving up or doing something about it. “I chose life,” she said.
As a mental health rehab worker for 14 years, she helped others with mental and other chronic conditions by organizing dynamic recreation and art programs. She noticed that engaging in art projects, particularly when combined with walks in nature, seemed to help sufferers more than anything.
“The more colour, the more engagement, the more satisfied they were. I used all the arts: singing, dancing, hand printing, art and nature combined.”
The process motivated her to go back to school and earn her community counselling certificate. She graduated last year and did her practicum at Linwood House in Roberts Creek. She learned to engage people in visualization and story-telling with time to make art. This is not art therapy, she points out, as that is a clearly defined profession with specific goals. This is a type of occupational therapy that works to overcome the symptoms of chronic pain.
On Saturday, Oct. 24, Blueth will offer an afternoon workshop at her home in Gibsons for sufferers of fibromyalgia or other chronic pain disabilities such as arthritis or lupus. It will focus on the emotional and psychological effects of the illnesses and take baby steps to move forward and explore strengths. Blueth believes that the mind has power over our health and that we can replace the negative associations with hope. Of course, art is involved and art supplies will be on hand with Blueth giving some examples using collage, pastels and paints. She hopes to continue to meet on a once a week basis with those who find the workshop helpful.
“This is art for creativity and for its healing aspect,” she said. “It brings the fun back into our lives.”
Register for the workshop by phoning 604-886-8097 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Fee is $35.