Society for Cultural Anthropology
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
Marion Selfridge (Canadian Institute of Substance Use Research)
This paper will share the experience of “heART space”, a one month pop-up participatory, collaborative, and community-engaged art show. heART space stemmed from a series of conversations, research projects, and ongoing collaborative efforts with current and formerly street-involved youth, front-line workers, and others affected by the current overdose crisis and the structural forces that have contributed to this epidemic on the West Coast of Canada. Using an empty storefront in Victoria, BC, heART space showcased art created by people who have died from overdose, art created to memorialize and honour those that have died, and art produced from those that have been impacted by overdose. heART space also hosted a series of open studios, harm-reduction and grief workshops, art-therapy workshops, and community conversations and meetings to talk about issues related to the overdose epidemic. This paper highlights how the participatory, collaborative, and community-engaged arts practices used during heART space created alternate avenues for support and dialogue concerning substance use, homelessness, and grief by directly involving youth in project design, program and event facilitation, and the development of knowledge mobilization that was meaningful to them. It also evaluates how arts-based research projects can improve the wellbeing of individuals who have suffered experiences related to trauma, displacement, and illness by illustrating how pedagogies of care and healing are created through community-led and socially-driven curatorial and museological practice .