Welcome to the 20th Anniversary of Being Scene! We invite you to explore our first ever virtual Being Scene exhibitions and events from wherever you are.

Being Scene is an annual exhibition featuring work created by Workman Arts members and artists with lived experience of mental health and addiction issues who have received services from CAMH. 

Workman Arts is a multidisciplinary arts organization that promotes a greater understanding of mental health and addiction issues through creation and presentation. We support artists with lived experience through peer-to-peer arts education, public presentations and partnerships with the broader arts community.

This year there are various components to the exhibition:

Being Scene Annual Exhibition

80 artworks by 60 artists inspired by diverse lived experiences.

To Speak Without Speaking Curated Exhibition

An artistic investigation of the ways in which we respondor have trouble respondingto collective trauma. 

Being Scene 20th Anniversary Retrospective

A celebration of two decades of Being Scene

Being Scene Event Series

A series of free, virtual events that provide opportunities to go Behind the Scenes.

Being Scene Creative Team 

Jacqueline Kok, Guest Curator

Paulina Wiszowata, Workman Arts Visual Art Coordinator

Lulu Wei, Videographer

Michelle Hanitijo, Video editor

Co-Effect, Web Design

Workman Arts Staff

Kelly Straughan, Executive Artistic Director

Scott Miller Berry, Managing Director

Jessica Jang, Education Manager

Sara Kelly, Communications & Development Manager

Kais Padamshi, Interim Public Programming & Partnerships Manager

Justina Zatzman, Membership & Hospital Programs Manager


Click here for staff contacts.

Welcome Letters
Executive Artistic Director Kelly Straughan

Welcome to the 20th Anniversary of the Being Scene Exhibition!


Being Scene began as a way to introduce Workman Arts to the CAMH community. We displayed artwork in hallways at the CAMH Queen Street site so our member artists could “be seen” by staff, guests, clients and their families. At that time, Queen West was just beginning to emerge as a trendy neighbourhood filled with galleries, restaurants and shops. As an arts organization located in a hospital, we wanted to secure our spot in this burgeoning indie arts community.


It’s fitting that the 20th anniversary happens as we return home to CAMH after a 10-year absence while the new buildings were under construction. While the pandemic prevents us from celebrating in person, this year’s exhibition is no less ambitious or provocative. This marks our first ever all virtual experience comprised of three exhibitions and an eight-part event series.


We are thrilled to welcome guest curator Jacqueline Kok who invited 11 member artists to respond to the global trauma we have all experienced in the exhibition “To Speak without Speaking”. In addition, we have the Being Scene Annual Exhibition you know and love featuring 60 artists and over 80 works of art. The 3rd component is a nod to our 20th Anniversary with a retrospective of the past two decades of Being Scene.


Even with all of the changes in delivery, Being Scene remains an important opportunity for artists to present projects that may not otherwise be seen. The exhibition encourages the breakdown of stigma, challenges stereotypes around mental health issues and celebrates talented artists examining all facets of neurodiversity.


Congratulations to everyone involved in the exhibition!


Kelly Straughan
Executive Artistic Director
Workman Arts

Board Chair Mark Goldbloom

Welcome to the 20th Anniversary of Being Scene! On behalf of the Workman Arts Board of Directors, we are pleased to have you join us for the exhibition this year.


This extremely unusual year has a lot of firsts. For Being Scene, this is the first time we are presenting an all-virtual exhibition. It is also the first time we are presenting a curated component called To Speak without Speaking by curator Jacqueline Kok, which we are very proud of.


While there are many firsts, we still have the Annual Juried Exhibition and this year it features over 50 Workman Arts artists. The art explores important themes, bringing to light issues connected to mental health, addiction, recovery and wellness. This results in a powerful show with meaningful and beautiful artwork.


We also have taken a walk down memory lane for our 20th Anniversary Retrospective on our website with pictures, videos and memories from the last 20 years. We encourage you to view this tremendous archive.


It was quite a challenge to put this show together during these extraordinary times, and the biggest thank you goes to the talented artists that have created the beautiful and thought-provoking pieces that make up this exhibition. Thank you to the jury that had the difficult task to narrow down the submissions of art to the ones shown today. A big thank you as well to the hardworking Workman Arts staff who have put in the effort and rigour to make this show happen so effectively under such unusual circumstances.


Thank you to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health for its unwavering support of Workman Arts. We are profoundly grateful to CAMH for all the support it provides.


I would also like to thank the donors of Workman Arts. Your continued support is essential for fulfilling our mission and providing important programming to our members to bring to the public more art, music, theatre, and film!


Not only do you have the opportunity to see this great art, you also have the opportunity to buy this art! I encourage you to buy a piece that moves you. Aside from owning these meaningful pieces, importantly, the net proceeds of each piece of art are provided directly to the artist.


We truly hope you will find the exhibition enjoyable, meaningful and enlightening.


Mark Goldbloom
Chair, Board of Directors, Workman Arts

CAMH CEO Catherine Zahn

Welcome to Being Scene 2021, presented by Workman Arts.


Twenty years ago, Being Scene invited the CAMH community to re-examine the experience of people with mental illness. In 2020, a global pandemic exposed a persistent marginalization and vulnerability of those who live with mental disorders. This year, CAMH welcomes Workman Arts back into our facilities, and Being Scene will showcase 80 artworks by artists living with mental illness, exploring compelling ideas and narratives inspired by diverse lived experiences.


The 20th anniversary of Being Scene comes at a time when uncertainty, and questions around normalcy are top of mind. This year’s exhibition features 11 commissioned artworks by guest curator Jacqueline Kok. It encourages us to think through the ways in which we respond to the deep-rooted scars that have been exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.


I hope you will dive deep into the Workman Arts archives through a special retrospective exhibition and a program of free, virtual events.


CAMH is proud of our partnership with Workman Arts and its commitment to advancing understanding of mental illness. I commend the talented and passionate artists, staff and volunteers for their tremendous achievement.



Catherine Zahn
President and CEO, CAMH

To Speak Without Speaking Curator Jacqueline Kok

When applying for the open call to be the guest curator of Workman Art’s Being Scene 2021, I wanted to resist the narrative of glamorizing the artist by drawing blatant connections between their works and their mental health. Instead, I set out to explore the broader connection between feeling and art. Art has the ability to act as a visual language that helps communicate and convey the very emotions that make us all human. I wanted, then, to propose a theme that addressed mental health in an inclusionary way and that highlighted artists’ artistic merit as its own separate entity.


To be totally transparent, my knowledge and awareness of mental health come at the heel of my own personal battles, ones that I will not elucidate as to avoid centring this exhibition around me.


Finding the appropriate ways, then, to achieve my goal sometimes felt contradictory but as you may soon learn, I quite enjoy inconsistencies. Not because of their illogical nature, but because they are able to shed some light on presuppositions and provide, perhaps, a new perspective on concepts. And so, in coupling my personal knowledge of mental health with my knowledge of the arts within the realm of mental health, I proposed To Speak Without Speaking.


I want to thank, first and foremost, Kelly Straughan and the team at Workman Arts for believing in my curatorial concept, and for giving me the opportunity to re-envision Being Scene. To Paulina, Justina, Sara, Scott, Jessica, Kais, Tope, Cara and Carlie — you’ve all been so supportive, helpful, patient and understanding in helping me realize this exhibition. I couldn’t have asked for a better team! I also want to thank my dear friend and colleague, Sean Lee, Director of Programming at Tangled Art + Disability, for guiding me in the language and verbiage around disability and ableism. There is still much to learn. I would like to express my deep-felt gratitude to Lulu Wei and Co-Effect for their expertise and professionalism. May our collaborations bring forth many more opportunities to work together again. Lastly, and most importantly, I want to extend my deepest thanks to the artists. Your compassion, care, devotion, and trust were what made this exhibition possible.


Jacqueline Kok
To Speak Without Speaking Curator