The day after defending my thesis, the graduating class then had to prepare for the art show. The theme of the show all the students agreed on was, les rasion d’etre (reason for living). Essentially, the rules were to bring art pieces we had created throughout our time in the Art Therapy graduate program for guests to witness each student’s growth.
Since I just presented my thesis topic, I thought there was no better way to keep the momentum going than to display my trauma art. Most of my artwork in grad school revolved around processing my sexual trauma. So, for me, it felt like there was no other option than to continue to lay it all out there.
I was nervous to publicly display my emotionally raw art, but I knew this would be deeply healing for me and others.
The poems and images that are in the box, the gift, were the raw moments when I first started processing my trauma. Then the paintings hanging up represented perspective I was able to receive after accepting my trauma. They depicted the moments where I was rediscovering myself.
**trigger warning in the slideshow**
The art show lasted for 3-4 hours where the artists could stand by their display to talk about their work if anybody asked. Just like at my table, when I shared my upcoming study, I constantly had people approaching me the entire time! People were asking about the meaning behind each piece. They were thoroughly reading my unfiltered poetry.
It was incredibly moving to see that my work, my voice, mattered.
I had countless people tell me, after viewing my art, that they had felt the same way when dealing with their trauma. Then they shared with me their trauma stories. I had some people hug me, and thank me for doing what I was doing. There were even a couple people that were crying, then told me it was because they were so moved by my vulnerability.
One professor waited until the very end of the art show, when everyone had left, to come up to me and asked if I could read out loud my favorite poems to her! Which threw me for a loop because I had never read any of my poems to another person before. That alone was a healing opportunity.
If you are interested, you can listen to further explanations of my artworks on my podcast, in episode 24, but let me know in the comments if you have any questions about a piece of art!
This experience allowed me to understand that because I chose to be on the constant path of healing, I was then able to start helping others in a way that was aligned for me. When we heal, we leave a trail of seeds that create the potential for growth within the collective. I still find it incredible that we all have the power to construct great change.
When we see the light in ourselves, we create light in others.