Ottawa-based artist Kanika Gupta is an award-winning and internationally recognized social entrepreneur and visual artist. Since returning to her hometown of Ottawa, she has become an Artist-in-Residence at the Ottawa School of Art, and is now launching her first book on living with a concussion.
Kanika uses her practice to engage in dialogue on humanity and hope. Now, she has released BRAVE, a hand-illustrated single panel comic series celebrating the unseen acts of courage taken to carry on following a brain injury. Her public author talk and book signing is being held on Sunday, November 24th from 3–5pm at the Scone Witch on Beechwood Avenue.
Created with the financial support of artistic grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council, BRAVE is among the very few patient advocacy books written by a young woman of colour, as well as being the only full-length illustrated book published on the topic of brain injury.
“While this book draws from my first-hand experiences, its story is universal and a reminder to everyone that courage comes not from the grandiose heroic acts that are glorified in popular discourse, rather in the micro choices we make to carry on day after day,” says Gupta. “In acknowledging and celebrating the mundane and seemingly trivial things that we do to live through the trials and tribulations of life, BRAVE helps us find compassion for ourselves as we are—which is what it means to be brave.”
BRAVE is an accessible resource, featuring a visual narrative and large text making it a non-clinical, easy-to-read book, inclusive of readers who struggle to read (a common symptom among the concussed).
Gupta based her main character on a superhero. “Isolation experienced as a result of being ‘a little different than everyone else’ is common among all superheroes,” she explained. “Living with a concussion is perhaps among the most isolating of experiences, as engagement with others in social settings tends to trigger symptoms and the invisible nature of the symptoms make it very difficult for loved ones to understand and connect in meaningful ways. Perhaps readers will see a bit of themselves in the protagonist, a cartoon character with an oversized head, a bell-shaped body and stick arms—but more importantly as a friend who is there with them, trying to figure it all out.”
Art first entered Gupta’s life following a concussion in 2013. At a time when she struggled to cope with all of the unexpected changes in her life, Gupta started using visuals as her medium to communicate what words alone could not. Her 2018 exhibit, ReThink Recovery, became Toronto Rehabilitation Institute’s first ever contemporary solo art exhibition.
Now, through her book, Gupta will be able to share the important lessons from her journey—of embracing life and all its imperfections—with an even wider audience.
Join the artist for a free event at Scone Witch (35 Beechwood Ave) from 3–5pm on Sunday November 24, 2019.