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Kamloops artist with bipolar disorder uses painting to help cope with hard times

Kamloops artist Karla Pearce paints to help her cope with bipolar disorder.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Karla Pearce
June 26, 2021 - 4:31 PM

It can be challenging when life throws us curve balls and we are forced to adapt, sometimes quickly.

For well-known Kamloops artist Karla Pearce, adjusting to rapid changes is even more difficult.

Pearce has bipolar disorder, something she has worked hard to manage her whole life. Balancing the big highs and lows the mental disorder causes can be difficult enough on a good day. When hard times in life happen, it can be dangerous.

Pearce recently found herself evicted from a place she has lived in for almost three years.

She was forced to find a new place to live in Kamloops's expensive rental market. She settled for a much smaller place with a higher rent. The financial stress and fear of homelessness took a mental toll on Pearce.

“Leaving a place after three years means looking for a new place at double the rental cost,” Pearce said. “I am grateful I found a good, safe place to live. I get a disability supplement every month that will help me meet my new monthly rental costs. If it wasn’t for this I would have been in a crisis situation. Add to this the extra challenge of having bipolar disorder. I’m already on the edge. My doctor is helping me to not crash.”

Pearce is a well-known artist in Kamloops. Her artwork hangs in many hallways and on numerous walls in homes and buildings around the town. Being forced to move to a smaller place means she no longer has space for her inventory of large, acrylic paintings. She is currently in the process of letting go of her belongings.

Kamloops artist Karla Pearce has set up a temporary gallery of large acrylic paintings that
Kamloops artist Karla Pearce has set up a temporary gallery of large acrylic paintings that "need to go out and communicate in the world," in response to losing studio and storage space.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Karla Pearce

“I am an art hoarder,” Pearce said. “I create more pieces than I sell and I sell a lot of them. It is normal for artists to build up inventory. There are really big acrylics, too big to store. I am letting them go. They need to go out and communicate in the world. They need to speak and share their language. Such a basic part of human nature is communicating through images.”

As Pearce copes with her mental health, the stress of the past month and letting go of her artwork, she is still grateful.

“I try not to hold onto anger,” Pearce said. “It doesn’t do any good. I’ve already grieved. I’m not bitter, but hurt. I have to stop and breathe through the difficult moments. I meditate through the process of painting. It’s my way of coping. I let go of everything and copy what I see around me. Everything falls away when I’m focussed on what a leaf looks like.”

Pearce has set up her old condo as an art gallery and is selling all of her acrylic paintings. Her goal is to find homes for all of her paintings via sale or donation. The sale will be on Sunday, June 27 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

You can browse and purchase ahead of time via Facebook here

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