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The healing power and intersection of dance, artistic expression, storytelling, and cross-cultural exchange.

S.C.A.R.S. was born from my own personal experience and struggle of healing from trauma and learning to love, embrace and feel empowered by the scars I've acquired during my journey.

 

In 2012, I underwent an intense operation to fix a congenital spine defect. When I awoke, my right leg was partially paralyzed and I couldn't walk on it for almost a year. Overnight, I went from being a performing artist and dancer immersed in my passion, to learning how to walk again. Three years later, after continuing to struggle with pain, dysfunction, and other health complications, it was discovered that the surgery had not healed correctly and needed to be redone. I raised money for my second surgery by selling handmade jewelry, and after months of wearing a brace and physical therapy again, it was successful. A third surgery was done 18 months after to remove an internal metal cast, and a fourth was performed shortly after to treat an infection that had formed in my surgical incisions.

 

During this journey to recover my health, I encountered many deep struggles including chronic pain, assault by a physical therapist, financial struggles, and depression. I turned to poetry, drawing, photography, and music when I couldn't move or dance much- art became my therapy. I vowed to dance and perform again one day, and in the meantime, create a project, a platform, an organization- anything that could create value from my suffering to help others heal and thrive. Although the healing process is always continuous-today I am walking, dancing, and performing again, a huge victory!

S.C.A.R.S is a project that has many branches that are all rooted in the common theme of connecting, helping, encouraging, and inspiring those who are struggling through dance, artistic expression, storytelling, and cross-cultural exchange. It has morphed from a jewelry fundraiser to a photography project and multimedia platform for sharing "scar" stories. It is inspired by the Buddhist concept of "turning poison into medicine" and the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi, in which broken objects are repaired with golden lacquer. This symbolizes and teaches that something that has been broken and put back together is more valuable and beautiful than before because of its history.

 

I paint around people's scars with gold to represent Kintsugi and then photograph them at a meaningful and personal location. I record video interviews of each person sharing their "scar" story highlighting their struggles and how they continue to overcome their challenges. Combining these photos and interviews with other media, I am working on creating short documentaries of each person, including people from as many different countries and walks of life as possible. I am also creating a multi-media dance film series with international artists. I am continually looking to collaborate with other artists to create live performance works and produce this film series combining dance, music, and spoken word poetry based on our scar stories. 

 

I hope that when people watch these documentaries, they may feel encouraged to not give up, and are able to connect to someone that shares a similar struggle or culture to that person.  I hope this platform can also help S.C.A.R.S. participants potentially gain support for their own projects that they share.

Another branch of S.C.A.R.S. I envision is creating a mobile non-profit organization in the future that brings empowerment art therapy workshops to under-resourced and under-served communities, engaging in all types of art forms as a therapeutic practice and as a catalyst for healing and creating value from struggle; as well as raising money for people with limited resources that need medical care for congenital birth defects.

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concept, media editing & web design: Olivia Eng

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