How do you establish trust and meaningful connection with a sibling who suffers from schizophrenia? In an attempt to rekindle her relationship with her estranged brother Steve, Joan takes him to art the Art Studios in Vancouver, where he takes part in art classes for individuals with a mental illness in a safe, supportive environment. This marks the beginning of a remarkable journey into the healing power of art. Schizophrenia had already done its worst, confounding Steve with voices, hallucinations and delusions. At fifty-five, Steve was in a burn-out phase of schizophrenia with a hunger for creativity. Joan’s efforts to connect with him through art soon become the vehicle of change. Over the next eight years, Steve progresses both artistically and personally. Together, Steve and Joan explore their art, drawing upon their own resources as they learn to trust one another. Steve’s artwork provides a glimpse into his perspective, at once both troubled and beautiful. His paintings and drawings are eventually displayed in two solo exhibits at Basic Inquiry Gallery. He attended what would become his final solo show shortly before his death in 2013. One in five North Americans experiences a serious mental health crisis; DrawBridge: Drawing Alongside My Brother’s Schizophrenia offers a path of hope for the afflicted and for their advocates. In memory of her brother, Joan has established the Stephen A. Corcoran Memorial Award at Emily Carr University of Art and Design to assist students coping with mental health issues.
Joan Boxall is a retired English teacher turned creative non-fiction writer. She received a bachelor’s degree in physical education with an English and French major from the University of British Columbia. She taught English, French and PE to teens in Cranbrook and Delta before acquiring a TESL certificate in adult education. She contributes her non-fiction work regularly to Inspired 55+ Lifestyle Magazine. DrawBridge is her first book. She lives in North Vancouver with her husband.
Stephen A. Corcoran
Born and raised in Vancouver, Stephen A. Corcoran trained at the Vancouver Art School in the 1970s (renamed Emily Carr University of Art + Design). His first solo exhibit was in February 2011 at Vancouver’s Basic Inquiry Gallery. His second exhibit was at the same venue in October 2013, shortly before his death.
“Boxall’s narrative will move you and make you reflect on issues of love, intimacy and loss in your own family… This is a love story for adults, without any simple resolution or cheap redemption. ”
“A lyrical portrait of a challenging relationship, Joan Boxall’s memoir about meeting her mentally ill brother every Tuesday for art class is a striking illustration of how art can both save and remake us. ”
— Jane Silcott
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