The Transformative Powers of Art


The Transformative Powers of Art

Photos by Lisa Kates at Four Seasons Centre for Performing Arts, February 13th, 2020.

Art plays an essential role in cultivating community and promoting change. What is it about art that is so powerful when employed in this context?

“There are many societal challenges we need to face right now, but instead of fighting with anger, I believe in using beauty. That’s where art comes in”. Inspiring words paraphrased from Jeremy Dutcher, a queer, Indigenous musician at a recent performance.

Art empowers people by allowing for personal expression of complex emotions and ideas. It facilitates connection and understanding in a way that is palatable and interpretable by all, regardless of cultural barriers.

These are some of many reasons that Building Roots utilizes art in our community work.

Last month, Building Roots was granted the opportunity to create an art installation for the Canadian Opera Company’s Opera for Young Audiences.


Collaborated on with OCAD grad student Chieng Luphuyong, the installation was comprised of individual triangles, each made by a child with the simple prompt to express what community means to them.

As each child planted their individual seed of expression, the art piece grew. Each contributor was empowered by having a role in its creation, all the while surrendering ego by watching it morph into something communal, greater than the sum of its parts.

The installation was eponymous with our weekly Do It Together crafting series in the Moss Park Market, inside which you’ll also find art from Creative Works Studio who provide individuals living with mental illness a place to heal through artistic expression.

The outer walls are painted by a local artist, and nearby you can find vibrant picnic benches painted by local youth with international muralist Karimah Hassan.

There is an alchemy when you combine personal expression, collaboration, and inclusivity, which manifests as change you can literally marvel at the beauty of.


This article was published in the March 2020 edition of The Bridge, a print publication “connecting people, places and ideas across our city from the downtown east”.