Racial Healing through Art

Thu, Oct 22

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This conversation focuses on the impact of racism and the cultural trope of the “strong Black woman” on the lives of Black women. Join artists, healers, and mental health professionals for a discussion of artistic pathways that support activist work around women’s issues and promote healing from racial trauma.  Featuring screenings of film shorts from the co-directors of Hands Up, introduced by Alexis Woodard. This conversation will be followed by an optional 30min Expressive Arts Workshop by Dr. Wendy Phillips. 

Moderated by Minka Wiltz, Creator and Host of The Cultural Workers Podcast
Amanda Washington, Theater Director
Dr. Wendy Phillips, Expressive Arts Therapist
Shanequa Gay, Visual Artist 
Dr. Ayanna Abrams, Clinical Psychologist and Founder of Not So Strong

Thursday, October 22nd at 7pm EST

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Minka Wiltz is a trained classical singer, professional stage actor, and writer. She has collaborated extensively on new and developing works written by playwrights including Robert O'Hara, Marcus Gardley, and Kia Corthron. She has performed on the stages of The Alliance Theater, Horizon Theater, The Actors Express, Synchronicity Performance Group, Working Title Playwrights, The Atlanta Opera, San Diego Repertory Theater and The Atlanta Symphony.

In 2019, Minka was honored by Emory University with their Community Artist Impact Award. In 2017, she received the Craig Noel Award for Outstanding Lead Female Performance in a Musical. Along with being recognized for her storytelling as an actor and singer, Minka has has also gained recognition as a writer. A three-part narrative inspired by her life as she has survived it thus far, were conceived and presented at Theater Emory thanks to Jan Akers. The first part of the trilogy, Shaking The Wind, was the first musical produced by Out Of Hand Theater as a one woman show in their living room series. Because of it's great success, the original closing date was extended from November 2018 to

October 2019 with the last performance at The National Black Theater Festival. Her most recent works as include being commissioned to write the first short play for the highly successful 100 Decatur Dinners which is still inspiring new models for healing across racial lines all over America.

In 2020, Minka was a featured soloist in The Atlanta Opera's production of Porgy and Bess, she starred the scripted Podcast The Seventh Daughter which was produced by iHeart Radio and reached the top 10 fictional podcasts on iTunes. Currently, Minka's personal podcast The Cultural Workers Podcast is available in video format on her YouTube Channel MinkaWiltz, on Spotify under The Cultural Workers Podcast, and on Anchor.fm at https://anchor.fm/minka-wiltz.

She is always interested in collaborating with adventurers and has no end of ideas for various genres of artmaking!!! Find out more at minkawiltz.com or email her at minkawiltz@gmail.com. Stay safe, be courageous!

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Amanda Washington is a freelance director based in the Atlanta, Georgia community working in conjunction with Kennesaw State Univeristy’s Department of Theatre and Performance Studies as a part-time Assistant Professor. Shows she has directed consist of August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean, DJanet Sears’s Harlem Duet, and Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses. Washington is also the creator of Theatre From My View. A YouTube channel geared toward exploring theatre through a woman of color’s perspective. Early in 2020, Amanda started her qualifications to become an Intimacy Director and Choreographer. In May of 2020, Washington received her Master of Fine Arts in Directing from the University of Southern Mississippi. Check out her work at www.washingtonamanda.com or visit her YouTube channel Theatre From My View.

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Wendy Phillips, Ph.D., LMFT, REAT, REACE is a Psychotherapist, an Expressive Arts Therapist, a faculty member, and a Research Psychologist. She is a conceptual visual artist whose favorite practice is analog photography. Wendy is drawn to historical and alternative photographic processes and fiber arts. In her research, Wendy uses photography as a method of Arts Based inquiry.  

Recently, Wendy has been studying and collaborating with artists of African descent in Matanzas, Cuba learning about the ways artmaking and creative expression are aspects of their Traditional Indigenous spiritual understandings and worldviews.In December, 2019 she inaugurated an El Colectivo Macondo Expressive Arts Training Program for students in Matanzas, Cuba by offering Multimodal workshops for adults and children in the Matanzas communities. Together with artists of African descent in Matanzas, she has been researching the retention and persistence of African Spiritual understandings among people of Arican descent in the United States and the Pacific Coast of Mexico. 

Wendy's most recent visual arts project uses historical family photos and personal and published oral histories as source material in an exploration of physical and sexual assault of women and non-consensual sexual relationships  as standard practices during slavery. She is interested in the phenomena of cross generational projection of trauma and psychotherapeutic and creative practices that facilitate healing. 

Wendy collaborates with Afro-Cuban director, Tony Romero in documentary film projects about the experiences of persons of African descent in the Diaspora. The film, A Sense of Connection about artists of African descent, spirituality, and creativity will premiere in Madrid, Spain on September 16th, 2020. Their current project, N-95 documents the experiences  and perspectives of persons in the  African American, Latinx, and North American Indigenous communities during the current pandemic. 

Wendy is a faculty member in the Expressive Arts Therapy Concentration at Goddard College, and is an Adjunct faculty member in the Clinical Psychology and Research Departments at Saybrook University. She is Group Therapist for the students of The Baton Foundation in Atlanta Georgia.  At the present time, she is engaged in a 3 year long training  program with Robert Bosnak and Jill Fischer in Embodiment Theory and Embodied Imagination Dreamwork.


Shanequa Gay, an Atlanta native, received her BA in Painting from The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and an MFA at Georgia State University. Gay’s work evaluates place, tradition, storytelling, and subject matter to develop imaginative dialogues and alternative strategies for self-imaging. Through installations, paintings, performance, video, and monumental sculptural figures, she fabricates environments of ritual and memorial. By developing counter and re-imagined narratives that live within the duality of physical and spiritual worlds, she explores the historical and contemporary social concerns of hybrid cultures, through the gaze of the African-Ascendant female progenitor. Gay was one of ten selected artists for OFF THE WALL a city-wide Mural initiative led by the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee (2019). Gay was chosen by The Congressional Club Museum Foundation to be the illustrator for the First Lady's Luncheon hostess gift for First Lady Michelle Obama (2013). Gay's work includes features in film and television such as BET, OWN, Netflix and Lionsgate Films. She currently sits as a Do-Good Fellow awarded to individuals working towards a better South (2019-2020) and an Emory University Arts and Social Justice Fellow a program which explores racial injustice and other inequities, leading to creative projects on campus and in the wider community (2020).

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Dr. Ayanna Abrams is a licensed clinical psychologist in Georgia and CEO/Founder of Ascension Behavioral Health. She obtained her master's and doctorate degrees in clinical psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology with emphasis on diverse populations and families. Dr. Abrams' specialties include working with college aged populations and graduate/professional students, adults and relationship/marital counseling. She has extensive clinical experience working with people of color, specifically Black women, Black men and Black couples. As a trained Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist (EFT), Dr. Abrams meets couples at the intersection of cultural identity and attachment styles in order to improve short-term and long-term emotional connection and relationship satisfaction. 

Dr. Abrams enjoys providing consultation and creating training/workshops for organizations, schools, churches, hospitals, & other media and has been featured in the New York Times, Essence, Allure and MindBodyGreen, as well as AfroPunk, Therapy for Black Girls and Silence the Shame. She is the co-founder of Not So Strong, an initiative to improve the mental health and relationship functioning of Black women through use of vulnerable storytelling.

Not So Strong is a black woman led movement that seeks to broaden the view of black women beyond the impenetrable, strong black woman, and seeks to empower women by finding strength through acknowledging and cultivating vulnerability.

See additional conversations and events taking place as part of the HANDS UP ATLANTA: Art & Activism series.


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