Healing Justice & Third Spaces
Healing justice as a movement is guided by the principles of Cara Page, a Black, Indigenous, queer femme organizer who acknowledged that social justice without healing dismisses the many layers of generational trauma and violence that exist as a result of racism and oppression. Healing justice brings collective practices of healing into activism, and is inclusive of wisdom from BBIPOC, LGBTQ, disabled, neurodivergent communities, and young people in social movements and community care. Third spaces are described by cultural and post-colonial theorist Homi K. Bhabha and sociologist Ray Oldenburg as communal spaces that are established outside of home, work, and school, and serve as anchors of community life that facilitate and foster creative interaction. Third spaces are not governed by any one political, religious, cultural, or social agenda rather they foster the sharing and co-creation of new knowledge that is inclusive of the histories and experiences of all members of the community. These spaces are vital to democracy and civic engagement, and allow for opportunities that amplify voices of people who lack social privilege and provide communities that are typically marginalized a sense of place.
What is Socially-Engaged Art Practice?
Artists working in the medium of social practice develop projects through collaboration with individuals, communities, and institutions to create participatory art that exists in both traditional and non-traditional spaces. Social practice artists co-create their work with a specific audience or design critical interventions within existing social systems that encourage debate and social exchange. Social practice art work focuses on the interaction between the audience, social systems, and the artists through making, collaboration, social discourse and community activism.
As an artist and art therapist I bring not only an educational and aesthetic approach to working with young people, but also a therapeutic lens to designing and implementing projects that seek to decolonize art in our communities, are culturally relevant, inclusive of diverse backgrounds and abilities, equitable in access, sensitive to emotional and psychological concerns, and trauma-informed.
What is Art Therapy?
In my 20 years as an art therapist, I have invariably viewed art therapy as a way to encourage self-expression and creativity for the purpose of telling one’s story. This might be in the context of an individual therapeutic relationship or in an effort to foster relationships, build connections, and find community. Over the years my understanding of the potential of art therapy has deepened based on the community-based work that has defined my practice. I believe that art therapy also provides a process for sharing lived experience in an effort to bring attention to the ways we as a society marginalize and repress individuals and groups who are deemed as other or less than. I view the act of elevating the experiences of our marginalized community members through art and story as one of resistance to silencing, and I view the act of making visible the strengths and amplifying the voices of individuals and groups who experience discrimination and invisibility as an act of empowerment. My application of art therapy theory and principles can be described as social practice. I work with young people and families in school and community contexts, providing direct programming and professional development to encourage the use of art to foster social-emotional development, promote sociocultural awareness, and build community.