Staying Connected to the Art World

Story collected by Will McGuirk, website:

Ajax resident Georgia Fullerton is an expressive arts therapist and counsellor. She is currently artist-in-residence at the Station Gallery in Whitby.

“I lost my father in April of 2021 and could not travel to see him to say goodbye, as he and my mother live in Jamaica. It adds a new level to grief and loss when you can’t even be physically there with your loved ones.”

“Just before COVID I was continuing to work in the community offering therapeutic arts workshops in schools and other community organizations. I have just signed a contract to start working with a neurofeedback clinic, offering expressive arts therapy and counselling services. I’ve been at the clinic for almost 2 years, so the entire duration of the pandemic. I am still there and the change has been a huge increase in preteens, teens and young adults seeking therapy. I’ve noticed also that there is a softening of the stigma of using therapy by the black community. This is not only designated to Durham Region though. I have clients who identify as ACB from Toronto, the US and other provinces in Canada. It’s not easy practicing using the arts virtually, however I am using the help of my colleagues and creating my own way of using this prioritized platform.”

“During COVID, I decided to work on my professional development by enrolling at the University of Guelph to earn an advanced certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy. I am two thirds of the way through. I also spent time trying to motivate my daughter to complete grade 12 remotely, as I learned she had been bullied in her first 3 years of high school. Together we found solace in watching retro movies, eating too much junk food, and lots of laughing. I live 15 minutes walking distance from Lake Ontario, so that was my oasis during covid as well. Of course to be able to connect with family abroad was part of my coping strategy as well. Depression was and still is hard to escape, so I countered that sometimes with my own self-meds with a few trips to the cannabis store”

“This pandemic has opened some opportunities for me in regards to staying connected to the art world. I don’t believe it will be ‘over’, but I plan on finding more courage to pursue a dream of building my own creative arts therapy practice and continue to inform my fine art practice from what emerges in those one on one or group sessions. Of course I’d love to travel on my own and with my daughter to see our family in the States and Jamaica. I want to not take life so seriously and work smarter… not harder.”

“It’s opened my mind and heart to the possibilities and necessity of arts in health. I’ve changed in ways that bring me closer to my life purpose; which is to use my creativity to help improve, impact and infuse people’s lives in a positive, empathic and compassionate way. Personally, it’s made me see my worth in all types of relationships. What I value has been reset. I can with courage, embrace what serves me and discard what no longer serves me; people, places or things. Change has come in the form of ‘resetting’ my life goals and being more cognizant of how I spend my energy. I want to take better care of myself, for myself.”

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