ABOVE PHOTO: Tracey Lewis-Giggetts
By Kendall Alexander
“The healing process begins once you feel heard.”
Tracey Lewis-Giggetts is a multi-faceted woman — an award-winning author of 11 books, owner and operator of an independent press company, NewSeason Books and Media, and an assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at the Community College of Philadelphia. She is also a “midwife,” helping others birth their own creative projects through heArtspace, a pop-up series which is in its second installment.
“I wanted to create a space that really spoke to the intersection of art and wellness, and I find that there are very little places for people to just be, to feel seen to feel heard,” Lewis-Giggetts said.
HeARTspace serves as that place for women of color to be heard in a world that often silences their voices. This pop-up is a safe space to convene and express one’s self through art or conversation, and to understand that there are women who can relate to the pain or journey toward wellness.
UtilityWorks in Lansdowne will house heARTspace, which will be open for coffee and conversation, purchase of books and merchandise, an open mic and workshops. There is plenty for everyone to participate in. As a survivor of trauma herself, Lewis-Giggetts gravitated towards creativity and arts because that was a place she could put her pain and can utilize art as a tool for self-care.
“There’s a great need for women of color to take care of themselves and to find ways that work for them to do it,” she said. Traditional talk therapy may not be an option for everyone, so offering art to the community as an outlet can serve as a powerful healing tool to help begin the process of self-care and expression. Oftentimes, therapy gets a negative stigma, but in recent years, the conversation has opened up more in the Black community. Lewis-Giggetts openly talks to her students about depression, anxiety, and therapy. She senses the initial lack of comfortability, but an interest has begun to develop for some, who will pull her aside after class and share their personal stories. Once the conversation becomes normalized, the negative narrative shifts.
The series was so successful last December, that Lewis-Giggetts is extending the pop-up to a fourth day to feature a workshop dedicated to healing through art entititled, “Paint Through It — Using Abstract Art to Heal from Sexual Trauma.”
“Something happens when whatever it is we’re
struggling with, when we have a place to put it PTSD and suicidal ideation come from not having a place to put those fears or thoughts. I’m excited to see what happens with our ‘Using Abstract Art to Heal from Sexual Trauma’, because I feel like that’s something we can give people to take with them and have a place where they can put their pain. I think art is a great place to serve that function,” Lewis-Giggetts offered.
HeARTspace seeks to expand further from an annual installment to quarterly and eventually monthly events. The end goal is to have HeARTspace have a solid place to call home, so that creatives, artists, and writers can decompress and express through their works.
Through Lewis-Giggetts’ vision, she has been able to create something beautiful, despite the pain. She encourages others to do the same and to become prime examples of the resilience and selflessness that all can admire in celebration of Women’s History Month and year round.
HeArtspace is here from March 7-10 at UtilityWorks, located on 32 E. Baltimore Avenue in Lansdowne. For more information, visit: https://nsbooksandmedia.com .