Shaundra Bruvall | June 10, 2022
Trevor G. on Inspiration and the Connection Between Art & Spirit
Sound Artist, Illustrator, Painter, and client of Alpha House Society’s Detox Program, Trevor G. spoke with us about his spiritual connection to art and recovery, and the inspiration behind the mural he created for Calgary Alpha House’s new Detox Gathering Room.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you originally from?
I was born & raised in Lethbridge. I spent most of my adult life…not in Calgary. I was in Vancouver, then lived in the UK for a bit – in Scotland – I travelled a lot in my 20’s and then I moved to Calgary when I was 32 to try to get sober. I spent 2 years sober, and then the last few years I’ve been in and out of here a lot. I’ve been here a lot. My binder’s like a phone book.
How did you get into art?
Art? Ohh…Well, I’ve always been into art. I was really into children’s books and comics when I was a kid, so I kind of got into drawing that way. My dad used to be an accountant, so he used to come home with that paper that was all attached and….well it was the kind of paper for those old dot matrix printers. He’d bring home stacks of that paper and that got me started drawing. I started making other kinds of art after high school, and now that’s what I’ve been principally doing for my entire life.
Do you have a favourite medium?
I do a lot of sound art. I play in a band that does really arty sort of music. I also work in film, like stop motion. But drawing and painting seems to be where I’ve earned most of the money that I’ve made by creating.
What would you say inspired you to create this specific mural for Alpha House?
The inspiration for this was actually something that Diane (Alpha House’s Detox Manager) gave me – the Seven Sacred Teachings. Each of the teachings is represented by a different animal, and then one footprint.
How is art helping you in your sobriety?
I find it’s a spiritual exercise a lot of the time because I don’t plan at all when I make things. I’d like to take credit for a lot of the stuff that I do, but I feel that it would be a bit of a misstep to do so because so much of it has to do with just putting colours or things onto something and then letting it make itself. There really are no accidents in that sense. I find it meditative, and I find that it connects me. I do consider it a form of prayer or meditation – more so than talking to the sky.
Is the spiritual element of creating art something that inspired your connection to the Seven Sacred Teachings portrayed in this mural?
Yeah, because what inspired my connection to Indigenous Spirituality was when I started coming here to Alpha House. I only ever come here to detox when things get pretty bad drinking wise. I would come here for detox, and it was through the sweat lodges and a lot of the cultural things that happen here that I was able to connect with it. It finds me when I’m at my worst both emotionally and spiritually and so I’m very spiritually thirsty when I come into recovery. Alpha House has always been there for me when I’m at my neediest and Indigenous Spirituality has always been the thing that has been there when I was hungry for it.
Also, as I’m doing the art, I always like to be informed about what I’m painting, so looking into the Sacred Teachings brings me closer…it just makes a lot of sense for me.
Is there anything else that you’d like to add or elaborate on in regard to the project?
To me, it’s an honour to be able to do this because Alpha House has been pretty instrumental every time I’ve begun recovery. This is where I come to clean up before I go into treatment or go back to my apartment. It’s been there when I’ve needed it the most, so this is a swell way to be able to give back. This place does really great stuff and there are lots of people who start here. Some people I’ve met here are now years into their recovery, so I see it as a privilege to create something that is going to be in a room that is going to be used for Alpha House things.
*Interview conducted by Jessica Irving.