By Adam Deane
VANCOUVER – Canada is known for a lot of things. We’ve got gorgeous landscapes, other-worldly coasts, wildlife, Drake… just about everything anyone could ever need. Though, did you know we also have the highest prevalence of IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) in the world? With this fact in mind, the Gastrointestinal (GI) Society, a Vancouver-based, nationally recognized gastrointestinal and liver health charity, is actively creating awareness about a disease group that includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and affects approximately 233,000 Canadians.
On Saturday, August 18 the GI Society and renowned local artist, Foster Eastman, will team up at his gallery for a community art project titled Painting Toilet Seats as part of the GI Society’s Painted Toilet Project. Over the course of a two-hour session, children, teens, and adults whose lives have been affected by IBD are invited to paint one of 90 toilet seats that will comprise a large installation, for which a final installation site has yet to be found.
We spoke with James Olson of the GI Society to learn more about this event.
“We really want to encourage people to participate,” Olson explains. “This is a family-friendly art project that is completely free to attend. The seat itself will be designed by kids, primarily. And the lid will include a map-image highlighting a public washroom in Vancouver. This whole event is dedicated to raising awareness in a really visual, hands-on way and also in a very positive, transformative way, taking the toilet seat and making it something colourful and quite beautiful. We don’t shy away from having a sense of humour about the topics we cover, though we take a lot of time, careful effort and consideration with the educational materials and our quarterly magazine that we put out.”
The pairing of artist, Foster Eastman and the GI Society seems to be a perfect match. Eastman has developed a reputation as a Vancouver multimedia artist whose work examines social or cultural issues which generally carry stigma and taboo. He has collaborated with the University of British Columbia’s Men’s Health Research Program on projects including Man Up Against Suicide and Still Here. Recently, Eastman has worked with the Veterans Transition Network on the Veterans Tribute Pole and the lestweforgetCANADA mural.
You will not want to miss the Painted Toilet Project — bring your family and have fun raising awareness for a cause worth talking about!
Painting Toilet Seats will be held at the Foster Eastman Gallery on August 18 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. To register in advance visit https://www.badgut.org/events/painted-toilet
Foster Eastman Gallery