Belonging and Empowerment through Community Art

Australia is regarded as a democratic, free and open society where all people are equal under the law and no one may be discriminated against on the basis of race, religion, ethnic group, or gender. Australia is a signatory to the UN convention on the rights of the child. Compared to many countries Australia is a good society. But while individual rights are inherent in Australian democracy, at its heart, it is the majority and the powerful who control the socio-political and economic space. Consequently, in reality, many groups and individuals, including children feel marginalised, disconnected and some disenfranchised from their democratic rights. This social disconnection and experiences of marginalisation come about in many ways. In particular, my paper examines the effect in Australian society of domestic and institutional violence which is statistically high and represents a dark and insufficiently acknowledged aspect of Australian society. Domestic violence and institutional violence affects the lives and life outcomes of many hundreds of thousands of Australians. As a community artist, I have over thirty-five years’ experience working mainly with young people, including those experiencing trauma, disadvantage, and marginalization. My art practice is focused on the empowerment of the individual through the creative process. My paper outlines the transformative power of art and creativity to build democratic freedom through hope, resilience, compassion, and connectedness to the community and society. My research is undertaken through the framework and intersection of theories of contemporary art with Buddhist philosophy as expressed by Buddhist Thich Nhat Hahn.

Community Art, Creativity, Transformation, Empowerment, Democratic Rights

The Arts in Social, Political, and Community Life

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

  • Audrey Emery
    • Professional Community Artist, Self Employed Artist, Audrey Emery Art Classes
    • As a professional artist my arts practice consists of three inter-related strands which I have developed over the last thirty years: Practical studio work, research as an independent scholar and working as an experienced community artist. Details of my Arts experience are listed below.