At the beginning of the year, fourth-year Dalhousie student Katie Oxford got an idea.
With a few art supplies on hand, set to work on seeing her idea come to life. She went out into the community and gave members of marginalized groups the chance to be creative.
“After a stressful day, I find it incredibly therapeutic to spend time painting, drawing, or embroidering,” said Oxford. “Access to art supplies and a space where I can express myself freely has benefited me in countless ways.”
Oxford soon realized, however, that many people in her community didn’t have this kind of access to spaces where they could artistically express themselves. It was because of this that she decided to supply free art materials as a way to equalize access to creative space throughout the community.
Oxford was also involved in HOPES, a student-led clinic which provides inter-professional healthcare to marginalized populations.
“I saw that students of various health professions were using their unique skill sets to benefit the community,” Oxford recalls, “so I realized that I could use my own talents to benefit the same population.”
By providing these programs, Oxford hoped that she could encourage creative expression and positive coping skills in the community.
As she began offering more programs around Halifax, Oxford realized that she could not keep up with the rapid growth of her project on her own. So, at the start of the semester, Oxford transformed her personal initiative into a Dalhousie society she named Art for Everyone.
“I created Art for Everyone in order to invite other Dal students to get involved in enabling our community to create more art,” said Oxford.
The society is committed to providing access to art supplies and basic art instruction to homeless and/or marginalized groups in Halifax.
“We provide weekly art programs and workshops in safe spaces throughout the community and encourage creative expression and the use of art as a coping strategy.”
So far this semester, the society has been able to run weekly art workshops at Adsum House for Women and St. Andrews Drop in Centre. The society also recently had the special opportunity to work with Frontier College, a national non-profit literacy organization.
“We provided a Maud Lewis inspired Folk Art workshop for approximately 30 children that attend their afterschool literacy programs,” said Oxford.
Running special workshops like this is only one of the many goals Oxford has for the society; her most urgent aim is to expand the society in terms of numbers.
“With more members, we will be able to reach a larger population, and encourage even more people to start creating art,” said Oxford.
Additionally, the society is considering launching a program with Shelter Nova Scotia, and organizing more workshops with Frontier College.
Art for Everyone currently has multiple opportunities open for students: there are executive positions available, leadership roles to direct new programs, and several volunteer positions for weekly and individual workshops throughout the semester.
Interested students can email Katie Oxford at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about meetings and how to get involved with Art for Everyone.