Kamloops artist channels his mental health and addiction struggles into art - InfoNews

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Kamloops artist channels his mental health and addiction struggles into art

DeWolf works on one of his new pieces.
June 07, 2019 - 1:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - A Kamloops artist is making waves in the community with his mind bending and eye opening style.

Stace DeWolf, who goes by the artist name Wolfman, captures what people often can’t comprehend. His works are bright, bold and strike a chord.

“It’s real, it’s honest, and it’s shedding a light on something that a lot of people don’t want to have light shed on,” DeWolf says.

DeWolf is the father to seven, a husband to one, and an inspiration to many.

He has struggled with mental health issues and addictions for much of his life, and has been able to use art as a medium to get all those thoughts on canvas. He has an ability to create a whole range of feelings within one image, work which can make onlookers feel happy, sad, alone and connected all at the same time.

“I’m just trying to eliminate the stigma behind mental health and addiction, and I’m trying to do that through my art. I’m just trying to help people with my work,” DeWolf says.

DeWolf with six of kids, pictured before the birth of his youngest.
DeWolf with six of kids, pictured before the birth of his youngest.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK -Stace DeWolf

He honed his talent in his teen years, when a teacher pushed him to pursue greatness.

“My high school art teacher saw something in me and he kind of took me under his wing. At the end of every year, he’d give me all the art supplies from the backroom and I’d work, work, work. I’d come back the next year, and he’d see the progression, and he sort of created his own curriculum just for me.”

DeWolf says he has been inspired by the greats such as Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Van Gogh, and German expressionists. He’s maintained a similar style since his teen years, but he always keeps evolving.

DeWolf's works illustrate the chaos associated wth mental illness and addiction.
DeWolf's works illustrate the chaos associated wth mental illness and addiction.
Image Credit: INSTAGRAM- w_o_l_f_m_a_n

“I recently got into spray paint only within the last couple months,” DeWolf says. “It’s a medium I never really considered because I never thought I had the ability of the confidence to do it. In my work I talk a lot about how we're in our heads and how we can be the only things that stops us.”

He was inspired to try out the art of spray paint by friend and fellow artist Kelly Wright, a Kamloops creative whose murals colour many city streets and alleys.

DeWolf’s works are comparable to a mirror, and he claims that just like the mirror, not everyone likes what looks back. For some, the artwork is hypnotizing, pulling you into yourself and putting some sense into what is in their head. Some, he says, might feel uncomfortable when taking in his works.

DeWolf'S piece titled
DeWolf'S piece titled "Stationary" illustrates the difficulty of moving forward through mental illness. He says, "It's this monolithic, heavy rock, that just sits there as the turmoil of our thoughts is swirling around. How can you ever move forward, when you're stuck like this?"
Image Credit: INSTAGRAM- w_o_l_f_m_a_n

“I’ve always said that art should make you feel like you’ve been punched in the stomach. I don’t know what the point of making art is if it doesn’t have an impact like that,” DeWolf says. “It should inspire people and try to foster change in humanity. It should make people think more about what they can do to be better or create more of an understanding for others.”

Some people, he explains, may not have the history to understand what the artwork means. He believes that those who have seen the darker sides of themselves will be able to understand the art on a deeper level.

DeWolf moved to Kamloops in 1994 after living in Victoria. He got accepted to an art school in New York, but he had to turn down that opportunity when his parents divorced, and he felt he needed to be there to support them. While living in Kamloops he has struggled and succeeded in living a healthy life.

“Art has always been there for me,” DeWolf says. “There was a time when I had to put myself into One South a few years ago, and I hadn’t done any (art) in a while. I didn’t realize how many mental health problems I had.”

He says that once he went to the treatment centre in Kamloops, creativity began pouring out of him. He made forty pieces in two weeks, all of which sold.

“My struggles with mental health and struggles with addiction kind of took me away from that for a long period of time. Art saved my life. It’s the one thing I could always go to and the one thing thing that was always there for me.”

One of DeWolf's self portraits.
One of DeWolf's self portraits.

Although his path has been long, windy and sometimes difficult, he says the struggle is what makes him a strong artist today.

“I feel really blessed. Recovery has given me a second chance, not only to be a better father and a better human being, a better son and a better husband, but it’s given me a better appreciation for the gift that I have that I can utilize a little bit more.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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