From June 2018 through January 2020, Conscious Minds Co-op ran Whole, a multi-faceted, multi-arts storytelling project led by young womxn artists of colour in Tkaronto that included a residency, workshop programming, and anthology magazine. Whole worked to create healing spaces for youth leads and participants alike to come together to remember, re-imagine, and embody holistic ways of being, and sought to inspire social action through the arts by questioning what it means to be “whole” during this time of global transformation.
The project began with a one-week residency in July 2018 that provided the space and resources for leadership training, artistic exploration, and self-reflection. Project coordinator Kristen notes that, “The residency was not just about developing artistic best practices- it became a safe space for us, as womxn of colour, to express ourselves with honesty, to move through heavy blockages and practice living holistically as a community. On the final day of the residency, overwhelmed by the love, support, and sense of family we exchanged throughout the week, we decided to form an art collective called Seven Waves”.
In reflecting on the time spent in the residency, one collective member shared that, “the residency was an interesting experience. I felt I saw myself in each of the womxn who attended, which allowed me to see myself in a clearer portrait. This was possible with the conversations that came about, the exercises and workshops we completed together, and the spiritual work. It felt like a safe space was created for understanding and creative energy and that really resonated with me”.
In addition to the forming of the collective, the residency also birthed the project’s workshop programming, which focused on tackling the unhealthy and unsustainable ways that we live and work, and how to co-create cultures of care and belonging. The workshop “used storytelling to empower participants to connect to their power, explore their purpose through artistic exploration, and activate their creative selves. Through playful visioning work and reflective writing prompts, we’ll explore how to use storytelling as a change-making tool, while sharing practices to heal, and better take care of ourselves and our communities”.
In Winter 2019/ Spring 2020, editors and contributors finished the compilation of their culminating magazine, It's Bigger Than All of Us (IBTAOU), set to be published in Fall 2020. IBATOU is a beautiful archive of what the project lead describes as “notebook scans, poetry, written work, photographs and illustrations, from the very vulnerable transformative years of 2018-2019, as we actively moved through shadow work, confronting fears and previously unseen traumas. This is the work of 40+ youth questioning what it means to be whole. This is the work of self-healing and empowerment. This is the work of re-storying ourselves, of reclaiming our power to stand in our truths, to tell our own stories (outside of the conditioning of colonialism, patriarchy and capitalism)”.
So what’s next? In 2020, an expanded and evolved version of the project was funded by ArtReach, and in 2020/ 2021, the collective will run a storytelling workshop series that will again culminate in a collective magazine. Also be sure to stay tuned for the release of their 2019-funded magazine this fall! And you can follow the work of project lead, Bonesthrown, at bonesthrown.com!