The Power of Art to Heal

Cynthia's article, originally published in Canadian Watercolour Magazine in 2023

If you’ve ever wondered if artistic practices like writing or painting can help you process difficult memories, read about Cynthia Cabrera’s experience (which she shared with Canadian Watercolour Magazine). 

Cynthia is a a Fine Artists and Interior Designer enjoying life in western Alberta. She is also our very own Landed cover designer and co-author. Her story in Landed is titled, “Not Here, Nor There.” Her article is copied below with her permission:

Painting from Personal Experience

“I will always be grateful I was one of the women chosen to participate. There was an instant kinship between the writers, the kind of feeling you have when you share a secret. We were there for each other.

“The coaching sessions were wholesome and unexpected. I found myself sitting with closed eyes, revisiting tender memories neglected in the back of my mind. The last time I felt at home, the smell of humid walls and the soft sounds of the night. The feel of familiar bodies cuddling in front of a tiny screen, sharing the same easy feel-good movie on repeat.

“I visited places in my mind I didn’t want to go to, memories that made me uncomfortable, even ashamed. I sat down that night, headphones on as the music blasted and I typed nonstop for an hour the entire story with rivers of tears streaming down my cheeks.

‘Not here, nor there’ is the name of my series of paintings and the most appropriate title of my immigrant story. Those words and pictures became part of each other, finally revealing to me the huge burden I had been carrying for years. The guilt that had plagued my dreams had stopped me from creating roots in my new home, filling my sleep with disturbing nightmares of war and disease. I finally knew what it was all about, and I was ready to mourn, forgive and release.

“Art invites us to communicate and relate to each other, but, equally as important, it teaches us about ourselves. Art can be healing in more than one way.

“I invite you to dig deeper: paint about the things that bring you joy but also paint about the parts of you that feel tender, uncomfortable, or painful. Paint from personal experience. You never know what you’ll discover.”

– Cynthia Cabrera

Curious to learn more? Check out our story-crafting programs, the book Landed and Cynthia Cabrera’s work.