A local artist is using her pieces to give back to a shelter that helped her get back on her feet.

“I never wanted my kids to see me as a victim, I wanted them to see me as a survivor,” said Alana Decker, an artist out of Cambridge.

After escaping domestic violence nearly 10 years ago, Decker spent some time as a resident at Haven House - a women's shelter in Cambridge.

“You learn so much with difficult situations. So many women that have to go or are in the Women’s Crisis Center need to be looked at as survivors because they took that chance,” said Decker.

Now she is channeling her experience and the lessons she's learned into art, giving back to the very same shelter that helped to give her a fresh start.

“It shows other women who've experience domestic violence that they can move beyond violence. That they're strong and that they can do this as well and it gives them a lot of hope,” said Jenna Mayne, Communications and Fund Development Manager, with Women's Crisis Services of Waterloo Region.

“Whatever is purchased, a part of the proceeds go to the Women's Crisis Centre, and I will always do that. It’s not something that's just for now, it's something that will continuously happen,” said Decker.

According to Decker, the inspiration behind her work comes from the idea of being safe, supported and loved. Every painting tells a story, representing a different sector of our society.

Representing safe spaces and diversity, Decker said she aims to create work that helps people of all backgrounds feel seen. One piece in particular has special meaning.

“Prisoner of my own mind, that one is my favourite just because of what it stood for and it's just the first piece,” said Decker.

Diving into art part-time at the start of the pandemic, Decker is hoping to turn this passion into a full-time profession moving forward.