Angela Chao uses Art as Therapy for Post Concussion Symptoms

Angela Chao has had three concussions in two years. After the first concussion, she discovered her inner artist and expresses her emotions through paint strokes on a canvas as mental cries for help. After all, art is one of the main antidotes for her feelings of depression, anxiety and stress, which are just some of the various symptoms of concussions.

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In recent years, Angela has garnered several awards and accolades for her works of art, including a trip to Australia and New Zealand, and a recent ad campaign with Mercedes.  Her work has been featured in several publications, including Best Magazine, Brain Injury Association of Canada Magazine, Mississauga News and countless blog postings.  She is scheduled to speak about her experiences later this year in Ontario.

  Since her own struggles years ago,  Angela has discovered newfound purpose.  Her current aspiration is to spread awareness to others about concussions. While she still faces many challenges, now more then ever, she is determined to keep painting, along with continuing to overcome mental and emotional highs and lows and adjust to her new life, post-concussion.  Art is her therapy.

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Image 1

The winning entry of the Mercedes #neverstopchallenging contest. My image and story is posted on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as the banner as well as the Mercedes AMG website.

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This is my first art gallery exhibit at Art square gallery in Toronto that also won ‘The People’s Choice Award’. I displayed 6 ceramic plates painted with ceramic ink. These plates represent some of the stages and also emotions I went through after my concussion. Depression, anxiety, stress, relaxation, rebirth, sadness were the six key emotions I felt throughout any given week. I also had a two-day public speaking engagement to discuss my concussions and art to a group of friends, family and strangers. It was amazing because it was a valuable opportunity to also engage with other individuals who were in the same situations as me, who needed support and had not found their therapy yet. I feel art has really healed me.

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Image 3

I was invited to paint at The Living Arts Centre in Mississauga for Art Battle in March 2015. This was a great experience to meet new artists and focus my attention and emotion into one single piece of art to be completed in 20 minutes time. I practiced the night before by creating a playlist 19 minutes long of meditation and relaxing music in order to accomplish this new challenge.

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Image 4

I entered a contest sponsored by Flight Centre. With 3800 entries and competitors, the judges chose my piece of art as the winner. Here I am at Flight Centre in Mississauga claiming my prize – a trip for two to New Zealand and Australia.

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This project showcases different styles of homes around the world. I have painted Brownstones in New York, High Rises in Taiwan, Jelly bean houses in Newfoundland and even homes built on rocks in Japan. My favourite and most unique painting was a house shaped like a teapot. I have created over 30 watercolour paintings for this sequence.

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The most relaxing place to be is my gallery. I have created over 600 pieces of art since my artistic epiphany after my first concussion. It’s a great place to reflect on how far I have come and what I have overcome. I can still remember the exact emotions I was going through just looking at the paintings. I find it extremely interesting the people who know exactly what the painting feels and means are those who have had a concussion. I think that is amazing.

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Image 6

I started creating Teeny Tiny Paintings in February 2016. These are tiny watercolour paintings the size of a business card, 2 inches by 3 inches. They can be customized to theme. My goal was just to sell 26 to buy a Japanese watercolour set. I reached out to my Facebook and Instagram followers with paintings inspired by various subjects that involved the film industry, camera, hunting, alcoholic drinks, food, and dessert themed pieces. After a week, I sold not only those 26, but over 120 pieces of art. I bought my watercolour set.

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I have been working in the Toronto film industry for around 10 years as a Camera assistant and through my career connections, have befriended the most wonderful cast and crew ever. Toronto is the place to be!  But behind all the glamor, there are also some negatives. We work long hours in tough situations with very little sleep. The anxiety, stress and constant yelling on set wears down on a person. Working 16 hours a day and sleeping sometimes 6 hours for 5 days a week, 4 months straight is not a way to live. It’s hard to get out of a hole sometimes. I think sharing how we feel and what we are going through can end up saving lives. I am choosing to publicly share my experiences about my concussion in the hopes that it can help others in the same situation.

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What do you do and where?

I am a camera assistant in the Toronto Film Industry. I also create art on my days off to help me battle my post-concussion. It’s been a two-year battle with three concussions, but I am winning. I am sharing my art and speaking about concussions to whomever I can.

What neighbourhood are you in?

Mississauga, Ontario.

What are you working on right now?

I am currently in the process of writing articles to spread awareness about concussions and on-set accidents. My goal, at the very least, is to provide a glimmer of hope to those who have had a concussion, but not yet discovered the therapy for them. I am also applying to many art contests and grants.

Where can we find your work?

My website is www.mindlessdoodle.ca
 – My IMDB is http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1678144/

My Mercedes Ad Campaign is up now at – http://www.mercedes-amg.com/webspecial/c63coupe/index.php?lang=eng&contest=true#home

My instagram is www.instagram.com/mindlessdoodles

 

 

Joel Levy
About Joel Levy 1635 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography