While in London, England, founder Maria Cheung overheard her roommate stumbling upon an exhibit at a local gallery covering sexually transmitted illnesses while on a first date. As awkward as the date may have gone, she found the coincidence a fascinating icebreaker on an otherwise uncomfortable and relevant topic from a public health perspective.
Having also struggled with and been on a healing journey from ending an engagement, coming out as bisexual and speaking out about her period of suicidal thoughts, Maria has spent time observing the importance and impact of community and societal systems on suffering through sensitive or taboo experiences and identities.
She has particularly observed the likes of thought-provoking artists and the use of public cultural interventions to explore, and create safe space for marginalized perspectives and stagnant conversations related to stigmatized topics.
Together with like-minded change-makers, the Taboo Health team began bringing art installations to medical trade shows and conferences turning the heads of busy clinicians and healthcare leadership with a space of reprieve and humanity. They went on to register as a non-profit in 2017, co-creating their flagship mini-festival on their first taboo topic of death and dying. The Dying.series created in collaboration with the Design for Health Studio at OCAD University brings together perspectives from families, caregivers, clinicians and researchers alongside the wider creative and public community, including partnership with a diverse range of organizations such as Dying with Dignity Canada, Hospice Palliative Care Ontario, the Retirement Income Group and a local First Nations community.
We are compelled to ask - is it possible that the creative community is uniquely able to connect a diverse group of humans at a level beneath our declared opinions, positions and even taboos? Could we as individuals and community, learn to celebrate our humanity in all it's colours of the rainbow?
Research has shown that avoiding conversations on difficult topics cause more anxiety and suffering in the long term. Through our cultural events, we aim to spark NEW public conversations through creative participatory story-telling, so that together we can all get a little more comfortable with the uncomfortable and make healing trend.
Health Achieve: Bringing our first art installation to a Medical Trade show!
Presenting Taboo Health’s mission to bring together the creative industry with the public health world for powerful story-telling at the Pegasus Conference for Global Health, and at the Congress for the Conseil de la cooperation de l’Ontario.
Opening night of our inaugural Dying. Festival, with four exhibits over three locations featuring 14 artist, and 12 speakers attracting over 3000 attendees.
Running our Dying. Festival for year 2, expanding our partnerships and programming!
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