Beyond Words: Diving Deeper, Winter 22 is an extension of the program created by BIPOC for BIPOC. The series aims to foster a safe and creative space centred in art healing for Queen’s University students and members of the Katarokwi/Kingston community who are Black, Indigenous and people of colour. 

This program will allow participants to explore and engage in discussions around the impact that racism has on them as individuals and members of the Queen’s and Kingston community. In addition, art making will allow participants to work through these heavy themes in a safe and expressive way. Art as healing is a growing movement that has a lot to offer to people working through emotions that are difficult to put into words. By creating this program, we hope to help develop a connected community of individuals with unique and shared experiences who can support one another. 

Beyond Words is a free in-person series in the main space of Union Gallery, open to BIPOC participants exclusively. The Winter 2022 Beyond Words series will take place on the following Saturday afternoons between 1-3pm: February 12th and March 12th. Register to save your spot. 

This program is supported by Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre. 


Art therapy is the use of the creative process partnered with psychotherapy which offers a chance for self-exploration and understanding. Art allows us to explore things we may not have words to explain. While art therapy can be a deep and intense form of counselling, this group will focus on a lighter form of art therapy— “art as healing.” We will be using art as a tool for expression and discussion in order to help facilitate healing within our mind, body, and spirit.



In this session, participants are invited to come together and begin a dialogue with their younger selves, through mediums of art-making, healing and conversing with other participants. Participants will explore their current connections with their younger sleeves, explore the ways they can embody their younger selves, and actions taken to maintain a safe space to allow their younger selves to play, laugh and thrive. 



In this session, the Union Gallery is partnering up with Queen’s Collage Collective and invites participants to reflect individually and collectively to create an art collage piece that relates to their experience with mental health, their breakthrough and struggles with mental health, and reflect on practices that have impacted them. Please note that participants do not have to be diagnosed to be part of the session, this is a time to come together and share our various experiences. 


The winter 2022 Beyond Words series is led by registered art therapist Melanie Gray and coordinated by Fatou Tounkara, Union Gallery Program Coordinator and Yashfeen Afzaal, the Program Assistant and QCC. In this series, Melanie will use innovative methods of art therapy and mindfulness to guide students on how to express themselves through art. 

Melanie Gray graduated from Queen’s University in 2016, with a BAH in Art History and Indigenous Studies. She went on to do her graduate program at the Toronto Art Therapy Institute where she graduated in 2018. Her thesis was titled The Ohén:ton Karihwatéhkwen Project: Introducing Art Therapy to Tyendinaga Mohawk territory using Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address. As an Indigenous Art Therapist, Melanie continues to be grounded in her Haudenosaunee culture and uses this understanding in her practice.

Alyssa Vernon is one of the founders and co-chairs of Queens Collage Collectives is in her final year of study at Queen's in the Concurrent Education program. For her undergrad, Alyssa majored in Gender Studies with History and English teachable. Alyssa is a collage artist and teacher candidate who advocates for marginalized students and believes in the power of art as resistance and anti-oppressive education. 

Queen’s Collage Collectives is a club on Queen’s campus. Our events are for healing, expression and the strengthening of mental health through creating art. We aim to provide an accountable space to facilitate anti-oppressive conversation. 

Fatou Tounkara is a fifth-year international student at Queen’s University and currently pursuing her BAH in Politics with a minor in Philosophy. Fatou is passionate about exploring how advocacy and the arts can complement one another. Fatou has previously worked as the Program Assistant at Union Gallery, President of the Queen’s Student Diversity Project, and as the Outreach Coordinator for the Queen’s Black Academic Society, during which she helped coordinate events such as The Soul of the Black Artist. She is currently working on a new initiative called Queen’s International Student Society. 

Yashfeen Afzaal is a first-year Bachelor of Arts Honours student at Queen’s University with plans to major in Art History. She was born and raised in Markham, Ontario and has a deep fascination with art history, especially regarding the relationship between fashion and art and how the two interact with one another. She is interested in exploring the cultural and social changes that have occurred in fashion and how that has influenced us in modern-day society. 

About Union Gallery 

Union Gallery (UG) is a student-centred public contemporary art gallery at Queen's University. UG is a space centred in community and conversation, driven by play, curiosity, curation and research-creation. We are located on the first floor of Stauffer Library on Queen's main campus, situated on the ancestral territory of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabek. All are welcome and admission is always free. 

Gallery Hours 

Tuesday–Saturday, 11am–4:30pm