Weyburn photographer-artist exhibit focuses on mental health

Weyburn photographer-artist Chris Borshowa opened a new exhibit of photos, entitled, “How to Destroy Demons”, at the Allie Griffin Art Gallery on Friday evening. The show will be on until Wednesday, April 22.

The 24 photos depict model Noah Katchuk dealing with one’s inner demons to reach mental health. A part of the exhibit was a video that showed some of the behind-the-scenes work of Borshowa working with the model in setting up the different photos.

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In Borshowa’s artist statement on the show, he said, “The content in this body of work aims to focus on the co-existence with one’s mental health in day-to-day life. As dark as mental health topics can be, they are still a part of who you are, and we need to make them more common place in society.”

He noted that while mental illness might be a part of you, it is not what defines you or what dictates your life.

In his artist’s talk with those present for his opening reception, Borshowa said the exhibit’s title is a play on a song by one of his favourite bands, Nine Inch Nails.

“The whole exhibit is about living with mental health, not just pushing it away or getting rid of it,” he said. “I think it’s something everybody can relate to in some capacity, so it’s always going to be a part of you. If you can live with it, it’s easier to talk about it.”

He added that people might feel less alienated about mental health issues as it is more commonplace now in society.

Asked about the mask the model wears in the various scenes, he said, “I feel like people wear many masks, especially with social media right now. It’s just easier to hold back stuff. You can encounter someone on the street and have no idea about what they’re going through.”

Asked if he is now at peace with his demons, Borshowa replied, “I have, but it comes and goes. That’s a part of living, I think, and it’s something everybody goes through at some point.”

His favourite image was one where the model is headless, and a wisp of smoke goes up from the neck.

Borshowa shot the photos in August, and worked through the photo editing process, but was unsatisfied with the results, so he started over, and didn’t finish the second phase of editing the photos until about a week before the exhibit opened.

This exhibit is in some ways a sequel to his previous exhibit from 2017, as it had a similar theme, “but I don’t think it was as dark as this one was.”

While admitting this exhibit has some dark themes, he said it’s also peaceful to be talking about mental health, and not being afraid to show it to people.

The model wasn’t able to be present for the exhibit opening, as he is doing a modeling job in Mexico currently, but with some of the model’s family present, he had a face-time chat with him and showed him some of the finished photos with his phone.

Some of the images are layered with different effects added, such as photos he did of smoke wisps or of sticks, and one of his photos features a large teardrop on the model’s face. Borshowa said this was a photo he took of a raindrop on his window, and he combined the image with that of his model for the final effect.

“I try to use my own stock images if I can,” he added, noting this model was used on the cover of the book of photos he released a year ago.

Borshowa said he gets inspiration from looking at other people’s work, and noted it was very cool to hear people tell him that his work had inspired them in their art work also.

Looking long-term at projects he would like to do, his goal down the road is to get into underwater photography using models. This may take a couple of years to make a reality, but is a project he would really like to try.