[PAST EVENT] Honors Thesis Defense - Whitney Ledesma

May 10, 2022
2:30pm - 3:45pm
Washington Hall, Room 317
241 Jamestown Rd
Williamsburg, VA 23185Map this location
Presentation title over periwinkle gradient with image of two people lying down in a circle of flowers

Title:  Portals to Healing: Relational Art Practices as a Decolonial Antidote to Transgenerational Trauma

Abstract:  In the face of massive threats to the wellbeing of life on Earth, art practices are vital methods for transforming life experiences and societies. The global devastation we are experiencing, often referred to using terms such as “climate crisis” and “mental health crisis,” is connected to historical and ongoing processes of colonization. Creative, integrated approaches hold great potential for moving toward ecological and social healing. This paper focuses on contemporary art practices and expressions that address intergenerational trauma stemming from coloniality’s fragmentation of relationships between humans and themselves, other living beings, ancestors, and land. Four artists acted as collaborators, offering their expertise to co-produce knowledge through conversational interviews with the student who initiated the research work. Examining artworks including paintings, filmed dance performances, and mixed-media photographic pieces, the artists shared stories and discussed conceptualizations of their work. The collaborative character of these artists’ processes counteracts the individuality of Westernized societies, instead emphasizing the interrelated nature of life. Relational artistic processes can be understood as methods of healing and experiencing time in a non-linear way. This paper proposes that the reviewed artists metabolize trauma and disconnection through embodied creative processes that highlight a relationality of radical love. Their art constitutes an antidote to transgenerational trauma caused by coloniality through, (1) integrating life experiences and ancestral memory into an embodied sense of being, (2) enabling catharsis or transforming distressing experiences, (3) fostering decolonial kinships, and (4) representing possible decolonial realities.