[Make sure to take a look at my latest book, Redesign Your Mind. It’s of great value to visual artists!]
Creative and performing artists are intimately involved in the process of analyzing culture, deconstructing cultural myths, and shining a bright light on cultural problems. They also can be “part of the problem,” when they promote mythology and fail to point out cultural injustices and misrepresentations. Whether it’s an Orwell writing Animal Farm and 1984 or a Western painter appropriating native American imagery, artists are part of their culture, representatives of their culture, and spokespeople for culture. Creativity coach Ashley Lamothe explores this theme in her post called “Decolonizing Creative Practice.”
I have always felt connected to Creativity. In so many ways, creativity saved me. It gave me space to be authentic, raw and real. As a very proud AnishnaabeKwe and mother, I have faced both overt and covert racism. I have been called a squaw, been followed in a store and have faced considerable judgment for the color of my skin (too dark for white, too light to be Indigenous). Every experience has been expressed in my creative practice.
One confounding concept that I have recently began digging into is this concept of decolonization and how it applies to any creative practice. So, what exactly does it mean to decolonize your thinking? You can start exploring this concept through a few questions.
Our systems were designed with oppression in mind. This is not a concept that is easy to accept if you are in a place of privilege. Imagine how deeply painful it is for those who experience it first-hand? Explore your practice from this place of discomfort. Ask: Am I contributing to the silence or amplification of voices less heard?
Stop Asking and Start Unlearning
As an Indigenous woman, believe me when I say, Do Your Research. It is not up to BIPOC to coddle you or your processes. We’ve been living this for generations. Ask: Whose lands do you currently reside on? Have I explored my own thinking towards the effects of colonization?
Moving to a Place of Conscientious Creativity
One of the most beautiful things about those who are creative is that we largely come from a place of subjectivity. You are already in a good place to begin to decolonize your thinking! You have a head start! Begin thinking about the systems around you and how can you contribute to decolonizing work. Ask: How can you challenge the narrative and break down the barriers?
Try rewriting your own story from a different lens. Would all your experiences happen the same or would there be privileges or disadvantages? Write what comes to mind and the emotions or questions it brings up.