April Mansilla is an established professional artist from Hamilton, Ontario who has a strong focus on mental health issues. This recurring theme appears in many aspects of her work in the visual arts, and she is a vocal advocate for mental health awareness and wellbeing, most recently giving talks on the subject with ArcelorMittal Dofasco, and at the International Bipolar Foundation.
She has collaborated on wellness-related art initiatives with ArcelorMittal Dofasco, Brock University, McMaster University, St. Joseph’s Healthcare, Dundas Valley School of Art, Centre3, Bell Let’s Talk and the Glenn Close Bring Change 2 Mind Organization.
The ultimate goal of April’s teaching is for her students to attain self-confidence on and off the page. Through art-making, she teaches an accessible creative process and the importance self-expression provides in mental wellness. She believes that in recovery and art, it is crucial to meet people where they are at, and when you show care and belief in others, that fosters a belief in oneself.
She is an award-winning artist for her Portraits of Hope and earned the St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton Spirit of Hope award for her advocacy of art and mental health in the community.
April’s own art practice is wide-ranging and includes self-portraiture, figurative work, Surrealism, expressive landscapes, art journaling, and photography. She often includes text in her pieces to make her intentions of meaning clear. April strives to make a strong, emotive connection with the viewer’s own life journey, thematically extending the work she has done as a mental health survivor and advocate.
She writes: “In a beautiful narrative of the human condition, I create my art, a visual representation of what many of us struggle against and the unbelievable levels we reach in overcoming the hardships life throws our way.