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Decolonizing Creative Practice

Creativity coach Ashley Lamothe provides top tips on the creative life.

Eric Maisel
Creativity Coaches on Creativity
Source: Eric Maisel

Creative and performing artists are intimately involved in the process of analyzing culture, deconstructing cultural myths, and shining a bright light on cultural problems. They also can be “part of the problem” when they promote mythology and fail to point out cultural injustices and misrepresentations. Artists are part of their culture, representatives of their culture, and spokespeople for culture. Creativity coach Ashley Lamothe explores this theme.

Ashley explained:

I have always felt connected to creativity. In so many ways, creativity saved me. It gave me space to be authentic, raw, and real. As a very proud AnishnaabeKwe and mother, I have faced both overt and covert racism. I have been called a squaw, been followed in a store, and have faced considerable judgment for the color of my skin (too dark for white, too light to be Indigenous). Every experience has been expressed in my creative practice.

One confounding concept that I have recently begun digging into is this concept of decolonization and how it applies to any creative practice. So, what exactly does it mean to decolonize your thinking? You can start exploring this concept through a few questions.

Get Uncomfortable

Many of our systems were designed with oppression in mind. This is not a concept that is easy to accept if you are in a place of privilege. Imagine how deeply painful it is for those who experience the consequences first-hand? Explore your practice from this place of discomfort. Ask: Am I contributing to the silence or amplification of voices less heard?

Stop Asking and Start Unlearning

As an Indigenous woman, believe me when I say, Do Your Research. It is not up to BIPOC to coddle anyone or their processes. We’ve been living this for generations. Ask: Whose lands do you currently reside on? Have I explored my own thinking about the effects of colonization?

Moving to a Place of Conscientious Creativity

One of the most beautiful things about those who are creative is that we largely come from a place of subjectivity. You are already in a good place to begin to decolonize your thinking! You have a head start! Begin thinking about the systems around you. Ask: How can you challenge the narrative and break down the barriers?

Creative Exercise:

Try rewriting your own story from a different lens. Would all your experiences happen the same or would there be privileges or disadvantages? Write what comes to mind and the emotions or questions it brings up.

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