Art for a cause

Breastfest raising money for Ridge Meadows Hospital. Event on Saturday Aug. 18.

Julia Bartel with her owl mask called Nocturnal Mind. She will be selling her art at Breastfest on Saturday

Julia Bartel with her owl mask called Nocturnal Mind. She will be selling her art at Breastfest on Saturday

Julia Bartel’s mesh tent is a realm free of technology. To enter it, you’ll need to obey a sign: “Please turn off all electronic devices/vices.”

“When people are on their cell phones or computers, they are less engaged in life in general,” says Bartel, 22.

That’s why when people enter her art tent at Breastfest on the weekend, she wants them to be all tuned in.

Bartel, who is studying visual arts at the University of the Fraser Valley, will be showing her work at Breastfest for the first time this year.

She plans to donate the proceeds from any sales to the fundraiser, although she isn’t sure she’s quite ready to part with the pieces.

Creation 2010, a wood sculpture, depicts two cells coming together. “The beginning of life,” she explains.

A mask of an owl made of wood and leather will also be for sale.

Titled Nocturnal Mind, the owl symbolizes Bartel’s struggle with insomnia.

“I feel like the animals that stay up at night and sleep during the day,” she says, with a laugh.

The third piece she’s bringing to Breastfest is one that’s generated a little controversy at school.

‘The Difference Between Us’ is a two-piece installation. The first is a ball-shaped wood sculpture embellished with moss, that represents the earth – it suspended in space and natural. The second piece is a New Testament bible, enclosed in a see-through box.

The earth represent my free spirit, says Bartel, while the bible symbolizes her Christian upbringing, “attending church, closed in with a lid.”

It’s an piece that perfectly illustrates Bartel’s reason for pursuing art.

“I like how art gives people a different perspective and engages,” she says.

Breastfest started five years ago to raise funds for breast cancer research.

“We chose Breastfest because it’s bold and something people will remember,” says Chad Williams, president of the non-profit group United Circle of Arts, which hosts the free festival.

To date, the event has almost $7,000. This year, donations are no longer going to the Canadian Cancer Society but will be funneled to Ridge Meadows Hospital to buy cancer prevention and coping equipment.

“It’s the first year we’ve made this change. We wanted to bring it a little closer to home,” said Williams.

• Breastfest takes place 3p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday Aug. 18 at Memorial Peace Park in Maple Ridge. Centrefold, The Bone Daddies, Whisky Jack, Crystal Swells, Ruskin, SolidRed and The Mortimers are playing the event. There will also be a car show, kids zone, art sale, food and raffles.