Out of Abstraction
Picture of the two authors Leah Ashanti Amaral and Johanna Tesfaye


Art-Based Inquiry
Black Art Therapist
Art Therapy

How to Cite

Amaral, L., & Tesfaye, J. (2021). Out of Abstraction. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 21(1). https://doi.org/10.15845/voices.v21i1.3048


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

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Articles published prior to 2019 are subject to the following license, see: https://voices.no/index.php/voices/copyright

Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under the  Creative Commons Attribution License CC-BY 4.0 that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.

Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.

Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work.


Bergen Open Access Publishing