Riia Talve was born 1 pound, 13 ounces. At 1 month Riia had a brain hemorrhage, spending her first 7 months in a special care nursery. Riia was also later diagnosed with OCD. Both her parents encouraged her to draw as a distraction from her anxiety.

Whilst doctors told her parents she’d never paint or draw due to poor fine motor skills, she was later accepted into the Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver.

Able Magazine spoke to Riia about how she uses art to manager her mental health and how she feels OCD could be better represented in society.

Do you find painting helps to reduce the anxiety and agitation of OCD?

Yes, my painting helped me because I am able to express myself when my OCD gets really bad.

Did you find you had good support at your school to pursue your artistic skills?

Yes, I had a good support group in school, as they saw that I had a talent for art.

Did you often feel people defined you by your disability?

Yes, As the teachers didn’t let me try things on my own.

Did your art enable those around you to look at your abilities?

Yes, those around me saw me as a good artist and not someone with OCD.

How did it feel to be accepted into the prestigious Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver?

I felt honoured to be accepted and felt like a fellow artist and regular student able to express myself.

Do you feel your art conveys what it is like to have a mental health issue?

Yes, because my art conveys the feelings and anxiety that I felt at the time I was doing the artwork.

Do you create and share your experiences to empower others?

Yes. I create and share my experiences through my paintings, art and by telling my story through presentations.

Do you feel your art puts a face to OCD?

Yes. I feel my art puts a face to OCD, as it express my emotional state, anxiety and life in general as I am painting.

Do you think the disorder is represented enough within art?

No. I think OCD is not represented enough through art, as some are scared or ashamed to open up about their disability and some have difficulties being around others.

You can find out more about Riia’s amazing story here: https://www.abilities.com/community/children-with-ocd.html 

Email Riia via:  admin@riiaphotography.com