Rebecca Burghardt, a self-portrait, 1996
The Touched by Fire Program
Touched By Fire is a program to stimulate and celebrate the work created by artists with mood disorders. The program has two complementary features: an art show and sale in Toronto, and this online virtual gallery.
Touched By Fire is made possible by public contributions. We are grateful to Raymond James Ltd. for their ongoing "Presenting" sponsorship of the Touched by Fire Art Show and Exhibition.
"We wanted to support Touched By Fire for two key reasons. First, we believe deeply in the importance of supporting the arts in Canada. Second, this is an opportunity for Raymond James to support individuals and families who live with the many challenges surrounding mood disorders. Touched By Fire is a celebration of talented artists, but it is also a reminder to all of us, that there is hope and help for those affected by mood disorders."
Peter Kahnert, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communications at Raymond James.
Rebecca Burghardt was blessed with true artistic talent. Like many others, she displayed her skill early, and in several media - and in her early twenties, Rebecca was admitted to the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
But Rebecca also had an illness that made her life a constant struggle. She suffered from severe bipolar disorder, and was hospitalized dozens of times while in the depths of depression or the euphoric fantasies of mania. Gradually, the demons in her life overcame the happy times and the creative moments. In July 2005, Rebecca chose to end the battle by taking her own life.
Family and friends were devastated - but also, they were determined to continue Rebecca's struggle, seeking happier pathways for others with similar talents and similar problems. Rebecca's illness had already led her father, John Burghardt, to become deeply involved as a communications volunteer with the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario. The family decided to give a gift to the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario in Rebecca's name. The result is Touched By Fire.
"Our family and Rebecca's good friends are hugely behind this program. It's wonderful to work with a remarkable organization like the Mood Disorders Association: when they see a need, they roll up their sleeves and make it happen. When Touched By Fire had its debut at the Gladstone in November 2007, Rebecca's work was there - and in so many important ways, she was there too. This is a legacy of hope, and accomplishment, and overcoming the demons - as dozens of Ontario artists are proudly demonstrating to all of us."
John Burghardt, Rebecca's father