Evocative imagery creates understanding
FAS/E arts festival tries new approach

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

IQALUIT(Nov 16/98) - Janice Beddard is trying something quite creative in order to get her message about fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal alcohol effects (FAS/E) across to the public.

Happening this Saturday night at 7 p.m. in Iqaluit's Parish Hall, Beddard and the rest of the Baffin fetal alcohol network have organized an FAS/E community arts festival designed to promote awareness around the issue.

And Beddard says that using various mediums of artistic expression should help to enforce the seriousness of the situation and make a positive difference in Iqaluit.

"Art is really evocative and the imagery is really strong and moving," says Beddard.

"It's a little different to say your baby can have learning problems but if you see some kind of art that depicts a child feeling lost or confused or left out or uncertain or angry, then that imagery can speak more powerfully to people. Hopefully we'll see some of that."

Beddard says that soliciting different pieces of artistic expression for the festival has required that network members go into the schools and out into the community to educate people about the effects alcohol can have on a fetus.

"In order for people to do art and children are doing stuff too, we're doing a lot of teaching so we're getting the information out two ways," says Beddard, explaining that the first phase occurs during the education and the second phase takes place when the artists show their work.

"It happens by having people present it and inviting the community to come and participate and learn through the people that have already learned through us."

The first part of the evening will include an interpretive dance, poetry readings, a puppet show and singing and guitar playing. Following an intermission with refreshments, the audience will be able to walk around and look at artwork and chat with the artists.

"There's going to be stuff like sculpture and tapestry and jewelry. Some of them may be softer things about love and healthy families, not necessarily the hard hitting message but I think it's going to be there in spades that night."

The work completed by students will also be on display throughout the evening. Beddard says that along with promoting the need for more diagnosis and support and understanding for those affected by FAS/E, she wants all community members to come out and enjoy themselves.