Bill Goers - HeArt for the Marginalized
Updated: Nov 18, 2019
I had the pleasure of meeting Bill Goers, a prolific, talented artist from Victoria, BC, at our Works of HeART Show in December 2018. Working as a visual artist for over fifty years, Bill’s art is intrinsically unique, thought-provoking and three dimensional. He entered his piece entitled, ‘Xin’, (translated ‘Heart’ in Chinese) in our multimedia art show, celebrating diversity and multiculturalism, at the 78 Wharf Street Gallery in Nanaimo, BC.
As captivating as it is peaceful, Bill’s art is created from locally-sourced, natural materials; cedar, hemp, rice paper, ink and rice glue. His calligraphic paintings are cut into strips and hung from cedar frames. Mesmerizing, they stir and rustle with the breeze, becoming one with nature and ever-changing with their surroundings.
Like his art, Bill is a multi-dimensional, peaceful, gentle-spirited human being who influences his own surroundings in an impactful, positive manner. I wanted to feature his story, not just because of his beautiful art and his contribution to our show, but also because of his commitment to making the world a better, kinder, more inclusive place, which is what Works of HeART Project is about and why we showcase inspiring people, like Bill, who are making a difference.
In the mid-70s, Bill created “Art for People” - an art program he designed for special needs schools and children who could not access art programs because they were considered a threat to others, disabled or simply not allowed into conventional art classes. This led to his working for the Attorney General of BC for a decade, as an art teacher and life skills counsellor in a school-based program called ‘New Directions’, for young offenders.
Since 2012, Bill has worked with the Pandora Arts Collective Society – a charitable, non-profit based in Victoria, BC, whose mission is to provide a safe, inclusive, welcoming space for all… especially those from the mental health community. Decisions are made collectively, allowing participants to be involved in the program’s directional process. Every contribution is valued. As Chair of the Board, Bill cares deeply for PACS’ members.
Twice a year, in the Little Fernwood Gallery, the society facilitates a show featuring the work of participating artists. This is important on so many levels, as it provides a chance for anyone to showcase their work; especially those who may not have the opportunity to, otherwise. This builds confidence, self esteem and a sense of worth for many of the marginalized and often misunderstood in society. It also provides a sense of community within a safe and welcoming environment. The gallery also showcases several of their artists’ first solo shows.
Pandora Arts Collective receives support from the Fernwood Community Association, who provides the studio space for free. This means that no one need be left out due to financial impoverishment. Sadly, many with mental health issues live in poverty and, without organizations like this one, or people like Bill Goers and his fellow society members, marginalized people would never be able to take part in an art program. To show their appreciation for the FCA's generosity, Bill and others in the collective, do a lot of work around the building to support the Association.
Although the main focus of this creative, humanitarian group is around their weekly studio sessions, they are also committed to taking the message of de-stigmatization to the community, by attending other mental health-related events, taking part in the ‘Moss Street Paint-In’, and sharing their message of inclusion and understanding, while breaking down barriers in the community. Their motto is ‘Art as Therapy’.
It takes a village… and thanks to kind-hearted, community-minded people like Bill Goers, our world is a better place. And we, at Works of HeART Project, are grateful to meet people like Bill, who not only practice art for self expression, but also for the community at large and the betterment of humanity. I like to call that ‘Living Art’.