My Art Therapy
My artwork has played a significant role in my life as art therapy. As far as I can remember, I’ve always found joy in creating artwork. It has been a platform I have always been comfortable with in expressing myself, dealing with personal issues, and finding peace, happiness and an escape.
When I moved to Canada, I was 17 and quickly realized how the world projected black people. I was very confused and angry as I experienced racism, discrimination and ignorance which I was not expecting.
I was raised to believe that white people were superior, and I had to respect them, and they would accept you if you spoke good english and bleached your skin etc. I was always given the impression that black people were not as smart.
However, with all the racism, discrimination and other negative events I experienced, my feelings about living in Canada were mixed up.
Coming from Africa, I never felt threatened by other races. I went to international schools, so I had friends from all races, and it was rare to hear somebody was racist. What bothered me was always being the odd one out and being stared at and people feeling uncomfortable with my presence.
Initially, I just accepted it because I was in Canada and did not want to make a fuss. However, I felt so bothered that I started having panic attacks and emotional breakdowns at home and school. I felt totally disconnected from myself and kept forcing myself to fit in with the western culture. I started hating myself and having a negative perception of other black people. It became evident at school that my Mexican instructor noticed my unhappiness. She was kind enough to make time for me to talk and express myself during lunch hours.
My feelings became more and more intense as time went by. I wasn’t going to express them to my family because I felt guilty and wrong for having these feelings.
It was at the end of my Fine Arts bachelor program that we were to create our final art project. A classmate thought it would be fun if I painted myself in different African characters, so I did. Little did she know it was one of the best peaceful and therapeutic experienced then. I remember creating my final project, and it felt like the whole experience had been waiting for me.
All my creativity fell into place. I felt so connected with myself. It was exciting, and I was in a happy space where I could be without worrying about what others thought.
My Artist Statement
My work is meant to be a celebration. It is a call to creative freedom. Using my face and body, I aim to go BEYOND the ordinary, beyond stereotypes and negativity, to a place where I can create beauty and achieve the extraordinary. My work is fierce. It celebrates the strength and creativity that allows us to endure and confront what frightens us.
For information about my artwork Visit: Tajaharts.com
Below is the first character I created in 2009 called Queen Ade
The story behind this is how I perceived myself: a chief, a warrior and a queen. I saw myself as something bigger than how I was being treated during that time. In my character, I felt powerful and scary enough that people would not try to touch me or pull my hair and skin. In my character, I was superior, and they respected me.
The next images have followed the same idea of power and fighting my negative feelings. But my experience has also opened other areas in my journey, which I have incorporated into my artwork and continue to.
My journey with my art has taken me places mentally, emotionally spiritually. It started from a place of not wanting to lose myself to a place where it allowed me to explore myself and what else I could be.
As a woman and a black woman, it has made me appreciate myself. It has helped me cope and deal with issues of racism, culture shock, and identity crisis from being adopted into a Canadian family. My art has empowered, healed, taught me about self-love, and helped my personal development. I see the world in a different light.
The other amazing thing about my art is that it has connected me to many different women from all races who have gone through similar experiences of feeling lost and disconnected from themselves. It has also connected to many black women who have shared the same experiences of racism and discrimination and not knowing how to cope and deal with it.
I am grateful that my art has struck different women in different ways. Now I have realized my art is not just about me but so many other women. Hence why I am passionate about coaching other women to also feel empowered in their own way.
I hope my art sends a message of strength, self-empowerment, healing, self-love, power, beauty and positivity to women everywhere.
For information regarding my artwork, please visit: Tajaharts.com