— by Qiaira Riley

On October 21, Moore’s Masters in Art Education with an Emphasis in Special Populations program invited artist, educator and mental health advocate Shanina Dionna to virtually chat with faculty, students, staff and alumni about her personal and professional journey. 

Born in Hawaii and currently based in Philadelphia, Dionna works as a visual and performance artist and nonprofit youth arts educator. In 2011, she founded Embryo, an art exhibition series supported by local wellness and art communities that helps raise mental health awareness. Within her position, she is able to integrate expressive arts therapy into the curriculum. 

In Dionna’s conversation, she focused on her personal mental health and wellness journey, working through diagnoses, hospitalization, therapy, and creative healing while dealing with stigmas of being a Black woman. She detailed how this path and her eventual breakthrough was guided by her studio practice, and led to the founding of Embryo, as she hoped to share the healing art processes that helped her with communities of color. 

During the Q&A session, students shared their experiences as educators, addressing how art helps both themselves and their students. Participants inquired about how Dionna practices self-care and navigates difficult conversations about mental health with young students, as folks shared their various experiences with integrating expressive arts therapy into the curriculum. The conversation ended with a group grounding session that peacefully guided participants into the rest of their night. 

You can register here for our upcoming Art Education symposium happening on November 14. We’ll be talking about Culturally Responsive Teaching in the Art Room lead by keynote speaker Flavia Zuñiga-West.

To keep up with future events and updates from the Art Education department, follow on Instagram @moorearted.