UTMSU hosted Freedom Through Art last Thursday as part of UTM’s DisOrientation Week, a yearly tradition that occurs near the end of first semester and celebrates the LGBTQ community at UTM.

The event was held in the Presentation Room of the Student Centre where students came to participate in the canvas painting activity. Paint supplies were assembled at the front of the room, music blared through the speakers, and cake, brownies, and juice were laid out for guests.

DisOrientation Week involves a lineup of events that tackle issues of social injustice through means of community-based discussions, workshops, and activities. This year’s lineup included discussions on colonialism tragedies, allyship, and anti-sexual violence, along with a self-care workshop, Freedom Through Art, and an open mic night scheduled for this Thursday. The events intend to educate students on relevant social issues in safe and reliable spaces while also providing a platform for students to discuss or express their emotions regarding event topics.

Freedom Through Art offered students an opportunity to express themselves through painting. The event supported self-expression and artistic identity. UTMSU offered canvases and a wide variety of paints and brushes for guests to choose from. Students sat at tables and chatted as they worked on their canvases. Other students gathered and talked throughout the room, using the event as a social tool more than an expressive one.

After promising a variety of artistic activities, I was somewhat disappointed to find that Freedom Through Art only offered painting. It would have been nice to see several different forms of art at this event. If there had been more diversity, students would have had the option to choose whichever artistic medium suited their personality best, considering not everyone is a talented painter—myself included. I ended up painting a childish flower and struggling to cover it as people walked past my spot at the table. Nonetheless, there were many talented artists that made the most of this singular activity.

After asking several students what they enjoyed about Freedom Through Art, the general consensus was that it was a fun spot to socialize with friends, snack on free food, and forget about final assignments and exams.

Whether students came for the free food, the social atmosphere, the painting, or to unwind from the stress of finals, Freedom Through Art was overall quite well received, proving to be a popular get-together for UTM students.