May 27, 2016
How would you describe your overall experience with Art Place?
I LOVED it!
What are some of the most significant things you’ve learned throughout your project?
Within the Art for Social Change, Your Brain on Art project I certainly learned how hard it is to organize a one-off group of Indigenous youth who have aged out of younger youth programs. The age group, 18 – 30 years, although in desperate need for programs that assist them in navigating life in a city, have tremendous challenges around attending programs while juggling school, work and family. In hindsight I would have brought the program into an existing older youth program possibly attached to the Odawa alternative high school where participants are already gathered. Our project had some hiccups due to our first location and workshop times being inaccessible for most of the youth.
In addition, although I feel it is critical to provide food to workshop participants I did not anticipate the costs associated with providing a healthy supper each week. In addition I would have started the process of determining the group collaboration project earlier in the process to allow more time for its execution and exhibition. Of significance however my Social Art and Expressive Art practice has grown as a result of my residency, in one part due to the social media exposure and the cache of being a artist in residence with AOE Arts Council.
How was your project a success?
Throughout the workshops, and previous to the collaboration, I witnessed tremendous personal growth in the participants as they learned new art tools and experienced the personal healing of expressive art. Within the collaborative art for social change portion there was a tremendous amount of pride expressed in the various elements created, the mediation, the natural escape room, the “feeling art” and then as they carried the collaboration out. The participants witnessed real change in the people they invited to partake of their social art and this gave them an insight into their own power to use art to create change.
What do you intend for audiences to see, experience, and think about when learning about your project?
I intend for them to see that community art creates change, not only in the participants creating the art, but in their own perceptions.
In what ways did or will the community benefit from your project?
This project had a wonderful effect on the Mamidosewin clients and the staff and students of Algonquin College that took part. In many ways it opened the doors to the non-indigenous population of Algonquin to come and have an experience inspired by indigenous spiritual beliefs. Although we did not ask participants whether they had ever entered the Mamidosewin space, anecdotal observations by the project youth indicated that although First Nations, Inuit and Métis students and staff mingle with the entire school population in classes or in leisure it is very seldom that non-Indigenous enter the Mamidosewin Centre. In this way I feel we were able to open the doors to an integration that does not often happen.
In your opinion, what did the participants learn from the project?
Aside from the plethora of art modalities taught, poetry, music, painting, drawing etc. I feel they learned their own power to create personal change and community change using art. Each of the participants continues to use art to process their emotions and deal with stressful and confusing situations.
Do you have anything else you would like to share about your project or the program?
I do hope Art Place continues to support those in Expressive or Community Art. I feel it offers new tools to create real personal and community change beyond the fine arts world. Fine arts are not accessible to many. What Art Place was able to achieve with this program is a host of young people not only creating change but becoming more curious of all art practices.