Renée Lalande wears her heart on her sleeve - and her emotions can be found just below the surface.
The Long Sault teacher and artist, along with her husband Ian Butcher, have ridden a roller coaster of heartache and trauma in the last year, grappling with the loss of their daughter Jovie, who was just five months old when she lost her battle with Trisomy 18 a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of an extra 18th chromosome.
In the year since little Jovie passed on, Lalande has been trying to process the grief and emotions that have, at times, boiled over.
Part of her journey includes a vast array of artwork, mostly paintings, that portray every inch of her grief in stark detail.
From massive paintings that show the image of a tearful woman amidst a backdrop of little birds, to the sculpture of an empty nest, Lalande's work elicits nearly as much emotion as it's meant to convey.
"It can be hard to express what I am going through," she said in an interview. "I feel the art describes what I am feeling."
One piece in particular is Lalande's favourite - and also the toughest for her to talk about.
It depicts a young child, lying peacefully with her eyes closed, while her mother holds her.
"I painted it in like eight hours," said Lalande, tears streaming down her face. "I look at this painting and I realize what I was feeling when she passed away. I was with her all the time. When she was at the hospital I stayed with her, sleeping in the room.
"But when she passed away I felt so empty. I had the feeling that she was alone."
Jovie was afflicted with a syndrome that occurs in around one in 6,000 live births and around 80 per cent of those affected are female. The majority of fetuses with the syndrome die before birth. The syndrome has a very low rate of survival, resulting from heart abnormalities, kidney malformations, and other internal organ disorders.
Jovie assed away on Feb. 6, 2012. One year later, on that exact date, her mother's powerful artwork will go on display at The Art Gallery - Cornwall on Pitt Street.
Much of the artwork imagery includes birds.
"We always called her out little bird," said Lalande. "We knew that one day she would fly away."
Lalande said her exhibit tells the story of her daughter, but also makes a point about processing grief.
"It really helps people to understand that other people don't need to be pushed through their grief," she said. "It's okay to feel grief, and move through it at your own pace."
The opening night for Lalande's exhibit, Feb. 6, will run from 6 to 9 p.m.