This study explores the psychological, sociopolitical and socioeconomic roles of art-making amongst members of the Enterprising Women Making Art (EWMA) program, a community arts-based social enterprise in Vancouver's low-income Downtown Eastside. Each of five participants completed two individual interview sessions which explored their backgrounds, the function of art-making in their lives, their past and present psychological and socioeconomic difficulties, and their impressions of their participation in the interviews. Four participants also completed two individual member check sessions to verify the accuracy of the data transcription and analysis. Interview transcripts were analyzed through a critical phenomenological lens using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Emergent themes included: the promotion of mental health and the expression of personal values through art-making; the enhancement of art-making through adversity; psychological resilience; limitations on art-making resources; opportunities for income generation, with limitations; issues with communication and discourse regarding power inequalities; and generally positive impressions of the study’s interview and research topics. This study’s findings help to inform strategies to promote engagement between individuals with psychological distress who engage in art-making and mental health researchers.
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Thesis advisor: Ley, Robert
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