This paper describes a collaborative self-reflexive practice using art-making, personal experience, womanist performance pedagogy (WPP), the Black Arts Movement, and poetry as the starting material for inquiry. Through arts-based inquiry, we reflected on our practice and Black personhood as art therapists, artists, and activists. We investigated the concepts of therapeutic and professional space in three areas: negotiating identity, co-creating our therapeutic practice, and making alternatives. We utilized the seven characteristics of WPP proposed by Khalilah Ali in her dissertation ‘For Us Poetry is Not a Luxury’: A Case Study of Six Black Women Artist-Educator-Activists as a framework, while drawing from care and healing practices from the Black Arts Movement, and using poetry as material. We merge our experience, theory, and action through this collaborative, self-reflexive, exploratory investigation, to better understand how to cultivate subversion and challenge the power structures and systems that we navigate on a daily basis. Our interest in this topic derived from the two alternative spaces that we created during our time as art therapy students: BIPOC Makespace and Sister Circle. We realized that our starting point does not always have to be in relation to whiteness, critiquing whiteness, or talking about our experiences in relation to oppression that has happened in our education. This paper is giving us the opportunity to choose our own starting point and material to investigate, putting Black knowledge, experience, and praxis at the center.
Copyright (c) 2021 Leah Ashanti Amaral, Johanna Tesfaye
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