Ever heard of writer’s block? Well, artists can suffer from something similar: the “blank canvas effect” or artist’s block. Sometimes you want to be creative and get something meaningful started, but you just can’t think of what do to. Or maybe you’re in a place where you want to start incorporating more art into your daily or weekly routine of healing from sexual violence, but you just don’t know where to start. The blank page can be intimidating, no matter how you’re using it.
For lots of survivors—transgender and non-trans alike—art and/or art therapy play a huge role in healing from trauma. Other posts on this blog have shared different art techniques that can help with healing, such as collage and poetry. FORGE also holds workshops at conferences about the effects that incorporating more art into one’s life can have on healing.
One of the first things to do when you have artist’s block is to redefine what art is to you. Many of us have an idea in our head of what art should be—for example, painting, drawing, photography, ceramics, etc.—and we often also think that only certain people are “good” at art. The truth is that art can be so much more, and anyone and everyone can do it.
There are probably many ways that you’re an artist or a creative person that may or may not fit into traditional ideas of “art.” For example, in FORGE’s workshops, trans and non-binary people who consider what art means to them have shared all sorts of things that are artistic in their lives, including:
- Having or sharing their tattoos or piercings
- Expressing themselves through their hair style
- Using make-up
- Painting their nails
- Putting together the perfect outfit
- Meeting new people
- Listening to music
- Sewing and tailoring clothing
- Knitting and crocheting
- Building things
- and the list goes on!
Try thinking of art as having two elements:
- Something that brings you peace and balance and helps you to be more present.
- Something that’s creative and/or expressive.
That’s a pretty broad definition—which is intentional! This way, everyone can think of at least a few things they like doing that they may not have considered as “art” before. Perhaps yoga is art to you, or running, or playing with your kids or pets. Maybe woodworking is your art, or fixing things. Writing poems or performing spoken word could be your art, or taking a class, or being with friends, or gardening. The possibilities are endless!
What does art look like for you, in your life?
Take a few minutes and write down all of the ways you are creative, or an artist. Here are a few questions to get you started:
- What do you do that brings you peace?
- Where are your passions in life?
- What does creativity mean to you?
- What things do you do that help you stay present?
- What artistic or creative things do you like doing?
- In what ways can you bring those artistic things into your life more often?
- Are there other people you would like to include in your artistic experiences?
- What physical spaces do you feel creative in?
- How often do you want to do creative things?
- What would you need to purchase or gather from around your environment to get started?
Being an artist and what that means to you and your healing is what you say it is! It’s your art and your healing and your life. That means you get to take things as slow as you need to while you figure out how to be creative. Your art is your own process.
Want more resources? Check these out!
- The “what is art to you?” activity in FORGE’s “Artist’s Life Adventure Zine” is a great place to let your free thoughts flow about what art is to you.
- There are many transgender artists doing awesome work out there that you may want to follow and get inspired by. Check out “15 Revolutionary and Influential Transgender Artists Who Refuse to be Invisible” from Artnet to get started.
- The Museum of Trans Hirstory and Art (MOTHA)
- “A Transgender Coloring Book” by Darla Hallmark
- “Transgender Sexual Violence Survivors: A Self Help Guide to Healing and Understanding” from FORGE