Nyssa Doss

As the fall semester at City Colleges ended, students, faculty, and staff gathered virtually to view and discuss the “Healing through the Arts” gallery. The brainchild of District Director of Specialized Student Services Dr. Donell Barnett, this virtual gallery was a positive culmination of a series of Community Healing Days that took place throughout the semester to help the City Colleges community process all that has gone on the past year.

“During this year of immense loss due to the pandemic and the awakening to racial and social justice, people need a way to express what they are feeling and to feel some connection with the solution. Art has always been a powerful way to express emotion and help people wrestle with big and broad ideas and movements. I wanted to give our students a voice and provide a way for them to contribute to the larger discussion. I also wanted the CCC community to see students engaged and provide some positivity and healthy ways of coping. This is why I scheduled the art gallery at the end of the semester – so our community could go into the holiday break with something positive.”

And they did – after a stunning presentation of student and faculty art – some created in direct response to recent events, others that came from class assignments throughout the semester. After the gallery was presented, each artist explained their piece, and how it related to their own or to community healing.

Dawid Borkowski, a student at Daley College, recreated the famous Guernica by Picasso to reflect the Black Lives Matter protests and the institutional racism that fueled them. Daniel Gordon from Harold Washington College showed his “COVID Bingo” made of slip cast porcelain conveying the idea that “it feels like we are living the unknown – we don’t know if we will be victims of the pandemic or not.” Ultimately, though, the piece reflects the hope and compassion he has seen in the world in the past months. In memory of a pre-pandemic life, Irina Averina of Truman College shared a painting of happier times she knows will come again – the warm light of a family gathering as viewed from outside a home. Nyssa Doss from Harold Washington College shared her powerful work entitled I’m Scared, the creation of which was a spontaneous reaction to how she was feeling earlier in the year.

“Overall, this event exceeded my expectations,” explained Dr. Barnett. “We have some fantastic students who are really thinking deeply about these topics and using their craft to communicate that. Further, the whole Community Healing Days series was necessary to promote a culture of healing within CCC and to help CCC contribute to the larger marketplace of ideas around these important topics.”

You can view the full event here.