Union Gallery

Beyond Words

BIPOC Art Series: Fall 2020

Beyond Words was created by BIPOC for BIPOC. The series aims to foster a safe and creative space centred in art healing for Queen’s University students and members of the Katarokwi/Kingston community who are Black, Indigenous and people of colour.

This program will allow participants to explore and engage in discussions around the impact that racism has on them as individuals and members of the Queen’s and Kingston community. In addition, art making will allow participants to work through these heavy themes in a safe and expressive way. Art as healing is a growing movement that has a lot to offer to people working through emotions that are difficult to put into words. By creating this program, we hope to help develop a connected community of individuals with unique and shared experiences who can support one another.

Beyond Words is a free and virtual series (via Zoom—note: these sessions will not be recorded), open to BIPOC participants exclusively. The Fall 2020 sessions will take place on the following Saturday afternoons between 1-3pm: November 7, November 21, December 5. Register to save your spot, a link will be shared closer to the date of the session.

Participants can register for single or multiple sessions by filling out this REGISTRATION FORM. Each participant will receive an Art Supplies Package that is available for pick-up at the Union Gallery (Tues-Fri, 12pm-4pm), or by shipment.*

*Free shipment is available for students currently living outside of the Katarokwi/Kingston area due to COVID-19. If you are requesting shipment, please register at least 1 week prior to each session in order to ensure your Art Supplies Package is received on time.

This program is supported by Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre.

If you have any questions, please contact Fatou Tounkara, Program Assistant, 17fat@queensu.ca or call 613.533.3171

What to expect

Art therapy is the use of the creative process partnered with psychotherapy which offers a chance for self-exploration and understanding. Art allows us to explore things we may not have words to explain. While art therapy can be a deep and intense form of counselling, this group will focus on a lighter form of art therapy—“art as healing”. We will be using art as a tool for expression and discussion in order to help facilitate healing within our mind, body, and spirit.

Saturday, Nov 7, 1pm-3pm

In this session, participants will be invited to reflect on who they are in relation to the world through art making. The session will open up with the Thanksgiving Address and an introduction of self/others, and will close with encouraging words and the opportunity for participants to share.

Saturday, Nov 21, 1-3

Through art making, participants will be invited to reflect on how they feel in relation to the spaces they are in—Queen’s, Kingston, Canada, and the world. The aim of this session is to spark conversation around what is happening right now in terms of racism, oppression, BLM movement, Indigenous Sovereignty, climate activism, resilience and pride.

Saturday, Dec 5, 1-3

In this session, participants will reflect on how to create and maintain a safe space in their daily lives. Through art making, we explore questions such as: How can we keep ourselves safe? What strengths do I have? How do I maintain resilience? How do I take care of myself? What gifts do I have?

Wellness Package

From therapists to wellness organizations, this wellness package provides resources and safe spaces for your wellbeing. We would like to indicate that we choose the following therapists based on a direct or indirect relationship that we have with them. Please feel free to refer to these resources during the Beyond Words program, or anytime afterwards.

Click here to download the wellness package.


The Fall 2020 Beyond Words series is led by registered art therapist Melanie Gray and coordinated by Fatou Tounkara, Union Gallery Program Assistant. In this series, Melanie will use innovative methods of art therapy and mindfulness to guide students on how to express themselves through art.

Melanie Gray graduated from Queen’s University in 2016 with a BAH in Art History and Indigenous Studies. She went on to do her graduate program at the Toronto Art Therapy Institute where she graduated in 2018. Her thesis was titled The Ohén:ton Karihwatéhkwen Project: Introducing Art Therapy to Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory using the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address. As an Indigenous Art Therapist, Melanie continues to be grounded in her Haudenosaunee culture and uses this understanding in her practice.

Fatou Tounkara is a fourth-year international student at Queen’s University and Program Assistant at the Union Gallery. She is currently pursuing her BA in Politics with a minor in Philosophy. Fatou is passionate about the arts and aims at exploring how advocacy and the arts can complement each other. Fatou is the current co-president of Queen’s Student Diversity Project, and has previously worked as the Outreach Coordinator for the Queen’s Black Academic Society, for which she helped coordinate events such as The Soul of the Black Artist.


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