DiaDan Holdings’ CEO on where heart and art meet

When Eileen Richardson donated several pieces of her photography to area fundraisers, she was tapping into two passions. The Nova Scotia based businesswoman says she finds satisfaction in creating her art and also a joy in donating it to worthy causes.

“It is therapeutic to help others, and artwork brings joy to both the artist and the recipient,” she explains.

The CEO of DiaDan Holdings Limited, Richardson studied photography in Art College, where her passion for photography grew. The school stepped in to support her developing talent by loaning her cameras to take on photo expeditions to the Caribbean.

“Not only did the generosity of the art program teach me about giving, it also helped shape me into the person I am today,” Richardson says.

At one time, Richardson had over 200 albums of photographs on Webshots, one of the first photo sharing/purchasing sites, which many people still use today for stock photos and computer backgrounds.

She firmly believes art helps enhance the lives of so many people, “like those who are suffering from an illness or carrying the burden of stress. It can also alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression.”

The Canadian Art Therapy Association (CATA) would agree. The professional organization’s website points out: “As an expressive medium, art can be used to help people communicate, overcome stress, and explore different aspects of their own personalities.”

According to the CATA, while people have been using the arts as a way to express, communicate, and heal for thousands of years, art therapy only began to formalize during the middle of the 20th-century.

For Harold J. Burstzajn, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, photography is particularly powerful: “As I’ve seen in my parents’ remarkable journey from the doomed Jewish ghetto in Lodz, Poland, and in my psychiatry practice, photographs have immense power to heal. The intention is always to connect with others.”

“The image is a very powerful thing to start expressing or talking,” says photographer Maurice Henri, who recently did a similar project with Moncton youth. “It’s safe and it’s OK for them to express themselves, to go through healing, to express emotions, and maybe say things that they’ve never said before.”

It may be this type of local partnership that Richardson’s donation will eventually help support.

“I do want my photography to support community efforts,” DiaDan Holdings’ Richardson says. “There are so many opportunities to promote change. Working together with the local community—whether through donations, time or promotion—fosters positive relationships and can make a great impact.”

Reflecting on the other of her two passions, Richardson concludes: “I love when art and heart meet. Photographs provide much more than a historical record. They are the emotional representation of so many of life’s important moments.”

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