Affective Alchemy: Powerful Emotions and Creative Expressions

af·fect (verb)
1) have an effect on; make a difference to
2) touch the feelings (of someone); move emotionally

al·che·my (noun)
1) the medeival forerunner of chemistry based on the supposed transformation of matter. it was concerned primarily with attempts to convert base materials into gold or to find a universal elixir
2) a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination

WHAT: What do we make of, with, or out of our most powerful emotions? Where do we hold our overwhelming feelings and how do they come out in the ways that we express ourselves? Rage, despair, grief, shame, fear. These are a few of the emotions that, despite or even because of how difficult they are to feel, can be rich sources of embodied wisdom. These feelings which tend to overwhelm or even render us unable to express ourselves in ways we usually would can often make us feel as if we need to express something. We are therefore interested in what we can do with such powerful emotions. Do they carry with them the potential to transform? To create? To combine? To teach?

Levana Gender Advocacy Centre is pleased to present three workshops that engage with this theme of affective alchemy.

WHEN: Friday, April 3rd from 9:30am-2:30pm

WHERE: John Deutsch University Centre – McLaughlin Room (Room 241)


9:30 – 10:00: Welcome and opening circle

10:00 – 11:15: move/breath/feel: exploring trauma-sensitive yoga

11:15 – 12:30: spoken word and community transformation

12:30 – 1:00: lunch (provided by Levana)

1:00 – 2:15: construction/catharsis: healing and learning through hands-on creative expression facilitated

2:15: closing circle

Workshop Descriptions

Spoken Word and Community Transformation – Facilitated by Raissa Simone

This workshop aims to address social justice, personal experience, and self-asserted narratives to foster a space of belonging and compassion. In this workshop, we will speak to participants’ writing that documents their own lived experience. We will will also engage in writing exercises, movements, and body expressions to create an environment of healing, thought, and artistic community.

Spoken word will be engaged with as an art form that offers potential for healing, growth, and resistance. In meeting with the theme of ‘Affective Alchemy,’ this workshop seeks to facilitate a space of channeling of the participants’ powerful emotions into voice and performance. Participants will be encouraged to bring paper and pens, be ready to engage in writing exercises and performance exercises, and engage with the work of other participants. Participants are encouraged to bring clothes for movement.

move/breath/feel: exploring trauma-sensitive yoga – Facilitated by Roxanne Runyon

Personal and collective histories live inside of our bodies. Our joints, muscles, organs, and nervous systems carry imprints of these these histories: our joys, our pains, our ecstasies, and our traumas.This workshop will explore yoga as a body of knowledge that can help us befriend our difficult emotions and internal states. The intention for this workshop is the creation of a space in which we approach our bodies with curiosity and compassion, engaging in gentle movement and breathwork in order to explore the sensations, thoughts, and affects that come up when we get quiet and go deep.

Please wear clothing that you feel comfortable moving in, and bring a yoga mat if you have access to one. No previous experience with yoga is necessary.

Construction/Catharsis: healing and learning through hands-on creative expression facilitated by Avery Everhart

This workshop considers the role that objects play in how we bottle up, release, stifle, or produce with our overwhelming emotions. We will work together to unearth the affective energy we store into objects, be they our most prized possessions, or things as banal and bland as cardboard. The goal is to talk through how/where we store our feelings outside our own bodies and what we can do to process them by modifying, manipulating, mangling, or otherwise alchemizing those objects.

Attendees are encouraged to bring whatever materials speak to them (some will be provided) and at least one object that is important to them. This important object may change shape or take on new life, so keep that in mind when choosing what to bring.

WHO: Facilitator Bios

Raissa Simone is a poet, musician, and activist living in Kingston, Ontario. She is an active member of the Artel collective, founder of the POCTALK open mic for people of colour, former director of Slam Kingston, and a finalist in the 2011 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. She has performed and featured at numerous events and festivals, including Hillside Festival, Urban Legends Poetry Slam, London Poetry Slam, When Sisters Speak, and the Toronto International Poetry Slam. Currently pursuing a PhD at Concordia University, Raissa aims to fuse her social justice activism and artistic fluidity into her performances, creating an atmosphere of tension, fervor, and vibrancy.

Roxanne Runyon is a thinker, an empath, and a dreamer. As a graduate student in Gender Studies at Queen’s, she thinks a great deal about emotional labour, trauma, burnout, and the role of painful feelings in social and political transformation. Having created a trauma-sensitive yoga program for the University of Alberta Sexual Assault Centre in 2012 and led numerous workshops on yoga and self-care, Roxanne is interested in thinking about how strong and loving connections with our bodies play a part in creating resilient communities.

Avery Everhart is an occasional scholar, artist, and activist from Greensboro, North Carolina. Now living in Kingston, Ontario, they are a first year Master’s student in Gender Studies at Queen’s University where their work focuses on Black cultural producers and productions, histories and futurities, and the body. They also live and work at the Artel, an artist lived-in co-op that facilitates emerging artists’ work in their gallery and venue space. They can be found tinkering writing, making, and performing in and around Kingston’s vibrant communities.


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