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Art therapy sessions host abuse survivors in qathet region

Artist invites local mothers to series of workshops
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RAISING VOICES: Naoko Fukumaru will be holding an art workshop at qathet Art Centre, starting this month, inviting local mothers living in a domestic violence situation or single mothers experiencing post-separation abuse.

Local kintsugi and ceramic restoration artist Naoko Fukumaru will be sharing her expertise through community art workshops from May to October with mothers who have experienced domestic violence or post-separation abuse.

Raise Your Voice is a collaborative art project drawing inspiration from kintsugi, the Japanese art of mending ceramics while embracing flaws and brokenness. Following the workshops, an art exhibition will be held in early 2023.

The goal is for attendees to support one another and promote healing while working together to increase public awareness of domestic violence and post-separation abuse, to help create positive change, according to Fukumaru, who is a recognized and exhibited kintsugi artist. The artform is a 500-year-old traditional Japanese method of restoring ceramics with urushi natural lacquer dusted with powdered gold.

“The philosophy of kintsugi teaches us to accept ourselves, our suffering and our flaws and that our healing can be a beautiful part of who we are,” explained Fukumaru. “We can transform our brokenness into beauty.”

She said the project came about from hearing stories of mothers who have experienced domestic violence and post-separation abuse.

Starting May 10, for two hours every three weeks, up to 10 participants will meet at qathet Art Centre (above Powell River Public Library) to attend Fukumaru’s free workshop. All skill levels will be welcome and final artworks will be presented publicly in an exhibition, and participants can remain anonymous if they choose.

Workshop attendees can share personal stories, information and advice, according to Fukumaru. From those insights, they will express their struggles, hopes and messages through art, she added.

“Often domestic violence or post-separation abuse can be very difficult and painful to talk about in public,” she said. “So the combination of art-making and applying the kintsugi metaphor of embracing flaws and imperfection will create a powerful message throughout works that can communicate with the audience, even the difficult and serious topics we are talking about.”

Transforming brokeness

Fukumaru said she will introduce participants to the kintsugi philosophy of transforming brokenness into beauty. The group will discuss applying this idea to art forms of their choice, whether it be painting, sculpture, drawing, fibre art, cooking, writing poetry or any other medium.

“I will encourage them to do what they are good at and what they want to do,” she added. “We will do a lot of brainstorming on how we can express pain and suffering and then also transform our suffering into beauty.”

Between sessions, attendees will continue their artwork in their homes, introducing art into their everyday lives.

“Art-making opens our minds and hearts and is very meditative, very healing,” said Fukumaru, adding that she hopes participants will continue to create art beyond her workshops, using it as a therapy to work through their pain.

Fukumaru hopes to give encouragement, strength and confidence to mothers who want to leave an abusive relationship and not return, and those who have left and are still struggling.

“Often after [mothers] leave, they face post-separation abuse, which is very hard to go through,” she said, “so they often go back to the same situation.”

Personal experience

Although participants might not have special training, they can provide information and advice from personal experience, which is a point of view counsellors or lawyers may not be able to provide, said Fukumaru.

“I realize there are so many women in this situation,” she added. “When we get together, I already feel stronger because I know there are many women to rescue.” 

She said she hopes the women will see that they don’t have to suffer and that change is possible. Working with people who are brand new to art is especially exciting, and anyone can be an artist, she added.

“They don’t need specialized skills or experience; they just need inspiration, materials and openness to create. Everybody has this ability. They will discover themselves through the workshop.”

Preregistration is required and will remain open until October 1 by emailing raiseyourvoice2022@gmail.com.