Student Voices: Art as therapy | Work of Arts
Student Voices: Art as therapy | Work of Arts

Student Voices: Art as therapy

Art is a form of medicine for Indigenous peoples and a stepping stone toward decolonization

One thing I’ve noticed flourishing throughout the Indigenous community is art:  art as a form of communicating ideas, emotion, trauma and healing. Art is a vital part of our everyday lives, as well as society throughout all of recorded history. Humans crave to create — we lust after uniqueness and strive to be expressive about things we are passionate about. It’s the closest thing to magic, next to love — in my opinion. 

Art has a magnificent power. Which is why it has been embraced in every culture throughout the existence of our race. Nobody, no place and no group of peoples are exempt from art. The question is… why? Why do we strive to be creators, writers, painters, musicians, sculptors and actors? Why do we, as a species, find beauty in the reflection of our own personal uniqueness? 

Art is medicine in the most natural form. Art communicates ideas that sometimes communication does not. We find depth in things that our minds can reflect upon in a way that is singular to our own personal experiences. There is something so special about creating something tangible that was birthed out of our ideas, feelings and emotions.

Art is a fundamental stepping-stone towards decolonization for the Indigenous community. 

Soar Aboriginal Arts Program

Art has helped give us a voice, a steady ground to walk on, and it has helped aid our spirits through the oppression we face and the trauma we go through because of colonialism. Art is a form of medicine for Indigenous peoples. Through the arts, we can find what was stolen from us. We can take back what is rightfully ours — our identities.

Art has helped me, personally, in ways I could not begin to explain. I don’t know who I would be without art. I have dealt with the pain of colonialism through the arts — through writing, and acting, painting and signing. I crave to create — I lust after the feeling I obtain after I finish writing a poem, or during performing. Art is so vital to our everyday lives because it lessens the weight of the world we all hold on our shoulders.

There is beauty in the broken, and through the arts we heal. 

The Indigenous artist community is growing rapidly, and for good reason. I would encourage anyone, Indigenous or non-indigenous, to seek out Indigenous artists and see what you find there. There is beauty in the broken, and through the arts we heal. 

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About Tarene Thomas

Tarene Thomas

Tarene is a Gitxan, Tahltan, Haisla, and Nehiyaw fourth year English major focused on Indigenous Literature. She is a poet, writer, shameless scribbler, facilitator and actor. Tarene works as an instructional assistant for the transition year program at the U of A, and also as an Indigenous peer mentor for the Faculty of Arts. Tarene is interested in dismantling the system, and writing as revolution.