Local paramedic and artist to showcase his ‘demons’ in Edmonton gallery

WATCH ABOVE: His art is controversial, showcasing the emotional wounds of first responders. For the first time, Daniel Sundahl's artwork will be on display for everyone to see. Kendra Slugoski reports.

His art work is provocative and highlights the emotional struggle of first responders.

He has a following world-wide.

Now, for the first time, Daniel Sundahl will showcase the raw images locally; on the walls of an Edmonton art gallery.

Sundahl’s first art exhibition will run from Sept. 1, 2017 to Sept. 22 at the Lotus Art Gallery at 103 Avenue and 124 Street.

“I never really anticipated others would attach their experiences to my art work,” Sundahl said from the art studio.

“My road has been pretty up and down and sometimes really down.”

READ MORE: Art project for first responders with PTSD offers way to release pain

But creating this art has been Sundahl’s therapy.

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“That’s how I purge the demons from my mind.”

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A paramedic and firefighter for more than a decade, Sundhal has no shortage of subject matter. Like many other first responders, traumatic calls piled up until post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) took form.

“It’s still a giant issue for us,” Sundahl said. “It’s killing an alarming amount of first responders through suicide.”

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Watch below: A local paramedic’s graphic photos are forcing the delicate issue of PTSD out in the open. Kendra Slugoski has the story. (Filed December 2014).

Sundahl admits his art isn’t for everyone. Some people view it as gratuitous and depressing.

Still, he gets about 100 emails a day from front-line workers around the globe who share their stories and battles with PTSD.

“A lot of the stuff that I hear is quite terrifying.”

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A glimpse into the life of a first responder can be dark and overwhelming. The gallery curator, Mariam Qureshi, said other local artists on the walls help bring balance.

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“They’re all amazing, amazing artists,” Qureshi said. “They also are very real. They’re your neighbours.”

READ MORE: Edmonton artist who battles depression uses camera to put a face to mental illness

Qureshi said showcasing Sundahl’s art locally will help others get into the mind frame of the image.

One of the pieces features a paramedic being comforted by an angel.

Curtis Demery poses with his father.
Curtis Demery poses with his father. DanSun Photo Art

Curtis Demery is the paramedic; his father Daryle, the angel.

“He’s always been my support, my role model,” Demery said.

“To have him portrayed as always having my back and always with me is very special.”

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Jay Cavanagh is also the focal point of another stirring image. He sits in the back of an ambulance with his head clasped in his hands.

“I can remember the day like it was yesterday.”

After a long gruelling shift, Cavanagh posed for the picture at around 4 in the morning.

“Once I sunk my hands and my head together it kind of boiled over. All those emotions you pick up along the way.”

Jay Cavanagh in “Spent.”
Jay Cavanagh in “Spent.” DanSun Photo Art

Sundahl is curious to hear what everyone else has to say about his artwork.

“It may be good, it may be bad. Either way, I’m OK with it,” he said. “As long as people have an emotional response to it, then I’ll be happy.”

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