Liberatory Community Art Action and Praxis
Keywords:art therapy, community psychology, public education, public housing, segregation, gun violence, community resistance, doll making, memorial
This community/art based participatory research project encompassed communal art making practices (art as therapy) to build community, heal and resist systemic oppression and community violence, as well as promote self-care, empowerment, and a sense of purpose. Using an ecological model, participants engaged in community-based art therapy to build and heal communities impacted by gun violence. This "Doll Project" developed as a grassroots approach to arts-based social change—an ongoing cycle of creation, reflection and action with the hope to create a wave of healing and understanding through impacted Chicago communities. This process was intended to engage communities and embody the use of creativity to shift power and flatten hierarchies, largely by building up leadership of those most impacted by violence. The art of doll making was used to memorialize victims of gun violence in the city in record-high years of murders, while simultaneously creating a memorial of resistance, and initiating community-based adaptive change practices for social equity, connectedness, and liberation. Two questions are highlighted by this research: How does gun violence impact school communities within largely isolated, marginalized urban communities? How can we best support those who witness and survive gun violence?
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