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PIERRE LEICHNER Artist Statement

Although we live in a period of great wealth, there continues to exist poverty and hunger; although we are increasingly aware of our environment, we continue to damage it incredibly; and although we have made great strides in understanding human diseases, we struggle to provide person-centered care and promote health. There is now growing evidence that participation in the arts promotes health and well being in individuals and their community. It is therefore critical that artists explore collaboratively within their communities the issues that confront people of all ages.

I left a thirty-five-year career as an academic psychiatrist for that of an artist. This desire was fueled by a lifelong dream and also by my dismay at the direction our health care system has been taking. During my studies, I became aware of many of the similarities between Science and Art. I believe art has lost its place to science, business, and entertainment as a way of knowing. Yet, at their core, they share the pursuit of meaning. I now describe myself as an interdisciplinary research artist. I am a full-time artist since finishing my MFA studies in 2011.

My practice has now evolved to be a composite of socially engaged art, environmental art, and installation art. I use various mediums as needed to explore an issue and because of my interest in creating multi-sensory works to better understand and communicate. I believe that as an artist I have a responsibility to communicate with my audience – that my intentions, at some level, should be accessible to most people. I am drawn to using elements of surprise, paradox, and humour to do this. I work on two intertwined tracts: a socially /politically engaged one and one of personal inquiry. I believe art has lost its place to science, business, and entertainment as a way of knowing. Most of my research focuses on our environment, and mental health I also work in developing opportunities for outsider artists to show their work and share their knowledge.

I am a member of the Gallery Gachet and the Art Is Land Network artists’ collectives, on the board of the Community Arts Council of Vancouver, and the Emily Carr Alumni board. As a scientist/health care provider, I have wanted to help others in need. As an artist, I want to be part of the journey in our pursuit of meaning while contributing to the health of our communities.

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