Rios: Is art cathartic for you?
Recently with the last series of paintings I did, I found the process of creating to be incredibly cathartic. There was a lot of focus, in this series, on coping with some pretty personal things, like healing from sexual trauma, abuse and identity issues. I didn’t realize right away what role my art was playing in my healing though.
To give you an example, while working on the last series, I noticed a specific landscape of a night sky and full moon over a black river kept appearing in my work over and over again. Eventually, I had the realization that this scene I was painting was the view of the Amazon river I had during a traumatic, violent moment in my life, a moment when I thought I was going to die. A moment where I had disassociated with the violence that was happening to my physical body at the time.
I started remembering how I had instead turned my focus to that sky and that river and tried to make peace with the realization that these could be my last moments. All I could think was “No one knows where I am. These are the last things I will see. This is where I die.” That imagery is in several of my pieces.
Forcing myself to paint it, to face it and eventually to reclaim it, not as something dark but as a symbol of rebirth, has been an incredibly powerful way for me to make peace with that experience and understand its impact on me.
Creation has definitely been essential to my healing and growth. Post traumatic growth is a beautiful thing.
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