Gabby Da Silva shines a light on invisible illnesses

Over the past few months, artist Gabby Da Silva has worked on the second edition of her zine invisibly ill, with community collaborations from the Sherbrooke Community Centre, École College Park School, AKA artist-run, and Remai Modern. Exploring themes of disabilities and invisible illnesses, Da Silva writes about how invisibly ill began and what it was like to create its second iteration.

Da Silva will launch issue two of invisibly ill at Remai Modern on March 21 at 1 PM. This event is open to the public, with contributors from Sherbrooke Community Centre and École College Park School in attendance. Free copies of invisibly ill will be available at the launch, with snacks and beverages provided by Hearth. We hope to see you there!

I am a firm believer in community, and its ability to uplift even when it is unexpected. The way it loves and accepts us. The way it can clarify your goals; accompanying you when you’re lost, pushing you higher when you’re down. The way it wants to understand more and continue learning alongside you. And the best part is that this community can be whoever you need it to be: friends, family, colleagues, people you’ve met in the public realm who have transformed into true supporters, even strangers. You don’t need to personally know someone to be of one community, which is why this zine is so important to me! There are so many voices that are constantly going unheard, especially regarding seen abilities or the lack thereof, and this zine offers a chance to feel a part of a real community. It offers a chance to be commonly understood without any ridiculous technicalities. Anyone can read invisibly ill and feel heard or accepted regardless of their daily situations. I am proud to be a voice in this community.

An image from the second edition of invisibly ill.
An image from the second edition of invisibly ill.

invisibly ill is a free and accessible DIY magazine for those who hold or have experiences with invisible illnesses in Saskatchewan. The very first issue was published by AKA artist-run, and was released in November 2022 as a physical copy within the Saskatoon community. This first issue focuses on my own experiences as a disabled artist who often appears able, and why I was ultimately compelled to create invisibly ill. A major topic I considered throughout the first issue was the question of: where are you welcomed, and where are you turned away? This question greatly considers the unjust assumptions of one’s abilities. Today, the first issue remains available online as a downloadable PDF at

For the second issue of invisibly ill, I had the opportunity to collaborate alongside Remai Modern, Sherbrooke Community Centre, and the intergenerational classroom at Sherbrooke (iGen). This collaboration incorporated numerous resident elders at the Sherbrooke Community Center and six students of iGen through a series of workshops, where everyone was encouraged to use their own personal experiences to create a weekly project. Simultaneously, each workshop focused on an art form that I have found helpful to my own self-expression, such as self-portraits, zines, sculptures using medical waste, and drawing spaces that make you feel safe or unsafe. Over the course of six weeks, we would meet to create art while discussing topics of identity, self-care, disabilities (those seen and unseen), community, and wellness. The results of these workshops are featured throughout the second issue of invisibly ill. For myself, this experience of collaboration was not only beneficial to the creation of the zine’s second issue, but also my own understanding of community and personal narratives. Suddenly, I had discovered a newfound excitement to make work; constantly looking forward to partaking in this shared means of creation. invisibly ill issue 02 was also published by the ever-supportive AKA, and it will be available at these locations this month:

  • Remai Modern’s Art & Design Store
  • Sherbrooke Community Centre
  • AKA artist-run
  • PAVED Arts
  • Art Placement
  • Turning the Tide Bookstore
  • Neutral Ground, Regina
  • The Dunlop Gallery, Regina
  • MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina

To all the people who have endlessly supported and believed in me, thank you for helping me get here!

An image from the second edition of invisibly ill.
An image from the second edition of invisibly ill.

About invisibly ill

In 2022, Da Silva released her first issue of invisibly ill based on her own experiences as a disabled artist who often appears able.

This edition of invisibly ill, published by AKA artist-run, was developed through a collaboration between Sherbrooke Community Centre and École College Park School’s iGen program, spanning several months. iGen’s Grade 6 students engaged in learning sessions at Sherbrooke, fostering ongoing and meaningful connections between the seniors in long-term care throughout the school year. 

Remai Modern and AKA supported the facilitation of workshops, production, and printing. Production and printing is funded by the Sask Lotteries Community Grant. Da Silva led seven workshops at Sherbrooke’s art studio for the iGen participants and Sherbrooke residents. During these workshops, students and seniors collaborated to produce artwork that appears in the magazine. These diverse artworks include a variety of mediums such as collage, sculpture, drawing, and more. Participants were awarded honorariums for their contributions to the zine.

Alana Moore, Sherbrooke’s Artist-in-residence, provided valuable administrative support and organized seniors’ participation in the workshops. Keri Albert and Lorna Conquergood of iGen played pivotal roles in supporting and encouraging student involvement. Five students and ten seniors collaborated with Da Silva to create these artworks. 

“This collaboration showcases Remai Modern’s commitment to community outreach, fostering meaningful, nurturing connections with residents in our community, and supporting local artists,” said Kas Rea, Community Programs Assistant at Remai Modern. “Throughout the workshops, attendees gradually opened up, sharing personal stories of resilience and perseverance in the face of illness. There was a remarkable level of honesty and vulnerability, that I think will leave a lasting impact on all those involved.”

About the Artist

Gabby Da Silva is a (dis)abled artist fascinated with the collaboration between digital and physical mediums. Within a conceptual approach, she makes work that deals with the documentation of events and the questions of how they can be presented. Born and raised in Saskatoon, Gabby comes from a close family whom she credits for their strength, especially when she was diagnosed with a neurological disorder in 2019. Her work responds to both her surrounding environments and everyday experiences; often accompanied by her own cluttered spoken word. Since graduating with her BFA honors in Studio Art, Gabby continues to practice as an artist, forever discovering new ways to express herself and her communities through art.

Artist Gabby Da Silva.

About AKA artist-run

AKA is an artist-run centre operating on Treaty Six Land that encompasses the traditional homeland of numerous First Nations, including Cree, Dene, Plains Cree, Nakota, Saulteaux, and Ojibwe, and the homeland of the Métis Nation. AKA’s artistic direction considers the intentionality behind our founding – led by a female artist collective making space in Saskatoon for experimental art practices. Our relevance is tied to our ability to take risks, to be responsive and agile in our support of artists and their ideas. 

AKA’s activities are generously funded by the Canada Council for the Arts, Canadian Heritage, the Saskatchewan Arts Board, Sask Culture, Sask Lotteries, and the City of Saskatoon.