An Esquimalt artist has turned her painful past into bright, abstract works of art that she hopes will inspire others to deal with grief and trauma in a productive way.
For the past four years, Dana Marie Markestein has struggled to deal with the both emotional pain of sexual abuse she suffered as a child and losing her mother to colon cancer.
“Her and I were super close,” Markestein said. “Just before she passed, she told me, ‘I don’t want you to just lay down and be sad, I want you to live life to the fullest you can. Think of it as a gift and the gift being you can do whatever you want and have no one tell you how to do it.’”
After attending a hypnotherapy session, on the advice of her mother, to help deal with her grief, a friend encouraged her to pick up a paint brush for the first time.
Since then, she has used painting as an outlet for her pain.
“There’s a lot of emotion in a lot of my pieces,” she said. “It’s just a great release — if you’re frustrated, sad or happy, just go grab a canvas and some acrylic paint. You don’t have to start expensive, I started at the dollar store.”
Her work is described as bright, bold, deep, emotional, fun and abstract.
Currently, 34 pieces of Markestein’s art are on display at the Cedar Hill Recreation Centre as part of a program with the Community Arts Council of Greater Victoria that showcases local artists.
“We try to exhibit as much as we can. Dana’s was a good fit because her work is beautiful,” said Brin O’Hare, arts coordinator. “I”m always a fan of abstraction and colour, so this is what I like about art in a nutshell.”
For Markestien, she hopes her work will inspire others to find ways to deal with their pain.
“It’s not about dwelling on it or being the victim of any sort, it’s about going forward. You have to move past it and just know that you are going to get through it,” she said. “With any kind of devastation or trauma, having an outlet to heal yourself with is important and I’ve realized that art is mine.”
Markestein’s art is part of the show “The Inspiration of Abstract” and is on display at the Cedar Hill Recreation Centre until Aug. 25.