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Art is all around us, in museums, as graffiti on the side of trains, murals on buildings and so much more. As a form of self expression and cultivating creativity, art opens doors for individuals to showcase their personal journeys, growth, and emotions. 

Steph Clark, a certified art therapist and registered therapeutic counsellor at Start Therapy uses art and creative outlets to externalize personal obstacles clients may be facing. 

“I think art therapy is so neat, because it’s all about the process and just being creative for the sake of being creative, and tapping into our inner child as well,” said Clark. 

Steph Clark at her Workshop Studios office in Inglewood. Photo: Isabella West

“It’s a great way to express ourselves and humans are naturally expressive and creative, so it’s an outlet for that.”

As expressed by Clark, art can have many positive benefits on an individual’s overall well-being by creating avenues to express oneself. However, accessibility can be limited. 

A basic canvas from the arts and crafts giant, Michaels, can cost anywhere between $4-$110. A small tube of acrylic paint costs between $8-$33, and a single paint brush can cost anywhere between $5-$68, depending on the type of brush someone wants. 

Because of the prices, some cannot afford what they need to express themselves through art.

The Alcove Centre for the Arts, a non-for-profit organization, is trying to fight this disparity and strives to make art accessible for everyone. They host events and workshops that are mainly “pay what you can” where anyone is welcomed to attend. 

Bethel Afework, executive director and co-founder of the organization said they recognize how the cost of supplies can deter individuals looking for creative outlets. The Alcove is looking to support younger people who may struggle with different socio economic barriers. 

“We really don’t want barriers and we hope to continue growing that lens of what we believe is accessibility and constantly [be] challenging it,” said Afework. 

Clark specializes in art therapy, but she understands that the benefits of art therapy are not isolated to a therapist-client dynamic. 

“I think you can make art out of anything, really,” said Clark. “Being able to go out into nature, and be really mindful and sit down, maybe it’s creating a mandala out of rocks and leaves that you found. It’s a way of being creative and tapping into that inner creativity.”

Members of The Alcove Centre for the Arts set up for their pop-up event. Photo: Gurleen Jassal

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Isabella West is a fourth-year Journalism student at MRU. She completed her work term over the summer of 2023 at LiveWire Calgary in partnership with the Calgary Journal.