If you have ever wanted to transform a boring, white canvas into a miraculous whirlpool of brightly-coloured paint splatters, stains, and streaks, then coming out to the first ever Trent University Paint-A-Thon might be for you.

On Wednesday, April 3, 2013, a celebration of the arts will take place on Trent University’s Bata Podium. There will be a showcase of many local vendors from the Peterborough community, artwork done by students from the Cultural Studies Department on display, as well as live music alongside the main attraction: life-sized canvases measuring 4×5 feet set up on Bata Podium where six teams will “paint like they’ve never painted before!” The event is open to Trent and the Peterborough community.

“I’ve been a participant of this event in Markham for the past two years, and it has always been really great,” explained Jessica Vuong, the Trent Paint-A-Thon project coordinator. “I wanted to replicate the same thing at Trent University. I am also in Cultural Studies, and it’s surprising to talk to students and hear them say, ‘wait, you are taking a drawing course?’ A lot of people don’t know about opportunities to be involved in visual arts here at Trent, because the arts are really lacking in our mainstream university scene. Sure, downtown is alive with the arts, but not so much here at the university. Art is something so fundamental and brings people together. Having that freedom of expression is exhilarating and should have a more dominant presence on campus.”

Proceeds raised from Trent’s Paint-A-Thon will go directly to local organization, Kawartha Food Share. The organization will be accepting donations on the day of the event, requesting non-perishable food items for distribution to people in the city and County of Peterborough who are experiencing hunger and food insecurity.

“It’s taking place the last week of classes, so you will be on campus anyways, and will almost definitely pass by us at Bata podium,” Jessica said in response to why students should come out. “It’s a nice way to take a look at all the different types of talent on campus, because we have so many gifted people. Basically, as long as you want to paint, you can come out. You don’t need formal training, just a desire to be expressive.”

In addition to being a great outlet to express oneself, creating art is also widely agreed by practicing psychotherapists to be both an effective and valuable tool to combat high stress levels. With major essays and lab reports soon due, as well as mounting final exam anxiety, it’s easy to slip into the negative vibes that run rampant around campus this time of year.

Not only can creative activities like painting tap into inner emotions (such as stress, anger, and hurt), but generating visual representations of these feelings in the form of artwork is also an excellent way to confront and release built up energy, both positive and negative.

Chris Froude, an art therapist based in England, spoke with Arthur about her work and the benefits of using art not only to fight stress, but more important its ability to heal.

She explained that the British Association of Art Therapy defines this particular branch of therapy as being “a form of psychotherapy which uses art media as its primary mode of communication. Using art materials to make images which can be thought about with an art therapist may help relieve difficult or painful feelings and can help increase general well-being. Sometimes words alone do not seem to be enough but images and words together may be able to convey what one wants to say.”

William Dalton, a second year student studying in the BA advertising program at the Ontario and College of Art and Design University (OCADU) agreed that art can be a great way to release built-up negative energy.

He explained, “Art can be used as an outlet for relieving stress because the process of creating art is subjective and non-assuming. The creator controls the outcome of art, essentially creating a product of self-expression which can bring about a feeling of achievement.” In the case of the workload-burdened student, this sense of achievement can simply mean ridding one’s mind of constant worry by visually exorcising it on paper.

Whether you are feeling the heat of the approaching exam period, are curious about the creativity of your peers, want to spend some time checking out a neat new initiative on campus, or just feel like taking in some positive vibes, Trent’s first ever Paint-A-Thon promises to be a day filled with music, community, and of course, art!

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Jen is a third year Indigenous Studies and English undergrad, and has been writing for Arthur since 2012. She has written dramatic pieces performed in Nozem theatre for Anishinaabe Maanjiidwin, been published in small alternative magazines, and is currently developing a book of self-positivity poetry in partnership with local Peterborough youth. In addition to spending her time writing essays, short stories, and articles, Jen can also be found devouring sushi at local restaurants downtown or sipping one too many cups of coffee by the river.