March 30 - April 10, 2009

Meditations on Wellness and Beauty

VAV Gallery, Concordia University, Montreal

Photo credit: AJ Korkidakis and Erin Silver

This work was created for and first shown in conjunction with the inter- exhibition, which was curated by Erin Silver (who was at the time a Masters Student in the Department of Art History). Erin also supervised a team of undergraduate co-creators from the “HIV/AIDS: Cultural, Social and Scientific Aspects of the Pandemic” course, including Heather Davidson and Johnston Newfield, both of whom contributed to the successful completion of this work.

A series of questions linking each of the seven chakras to beauty and wellness was distributed widely. The unedited answers were then collated and scribed onto seven different acid free sheets of paper using ink of the corresponding chakra colour for each set of responses before being framed and exhibited in this group show along with print outs of the anonymous responses.


1) What does beauty and wellness mean to you in relation to HOME (self- awareness, grounding, survival and security)?

2) What does beauty and wellness mean to you in relation to SELF-RESPECT (sensuality, pleasure, and creativity)?

3) What does beauty and wellness mean to you in relation to SELF-WORTH (assertiveness and power in relation with others)?

4) What does beauty and wellness mean to you in relation to LOVE (the ability to give and receive openheartedly to self and others)?

5) What does beauty and wellness mean to you in relation to SELF-EXPRESSION (communication and the courage to change)?

6) What does beauty and wellness mean to you in relation to RESPONSIBILITY (intuition, vision and balance)?

7) What does beauty and wellness mean to you in relation to CONSCIOUSNESS (acceptance)?


HOME (self- awareness, grounding, survival and security)
  1. Home has never been about love for me. It has always represented something more sinister and sad than that. I’d like to find a way to redefine this concept within my framework.
  2. Home is a place of comfort, retreat and hospitality.
  3. A place where things grow and do not hide.
  4. In the context of home I think of beauty and wellness as a privilege. Only are you lucky enough to appreciate beauty when your human needs are being met, otherwise it's not an animalistic priority...
  5. I am still trying to find my real “home”.
  6. Home is laughter and openness.
  7. As queers, if home is family, beauty and wellness are rarely attached to home. Home is the violence of family isolation, homophobia, discretion, invisibility, indifference. As queers, if home is family, the weight of family legacies, home is the threat of disappearance. Disappearance is the absence of beauty, is the violence of erasure. As queers, if home is chosen family, we can locate beauty and wellness in the bodies of our friends and lovers, the people we fuck, the people with whom we struggle. Our (queer) home is our bodies, site of constant struggle.
  8. The home is a sense of comfort, timelessness, and unconditional love. Beauty at home is my mother. Wellness in her cradling arms.
  9. To me it means the well-being of my family. That they are happy, healthy, provided for, have a home, educated and secure.
  10. Home is a shit concept. Instead surround yourself with good vibes and you will always be “home”.
  11. Life is centered around the idea of finding a “home” and finding comfort there. Without a place of comfort to return to at the end of the day/month/year, there can be no life at all.
  12. Good food is love.
  13. Home is the place I work to get away from. In a way, it’s a great motivating force in my life.
  14. Beauty and wellness in relation to home means the queer community, to me. I have found a place and a group of people that make me feel beautiful, well, and at home every day.
  15. Home is my parents, my friends, and my bed. If I have those things, nothing else matters.
  16. Beauty and wellness are synonymous with the idea of home in my life. As long as I am in the place I call home, wherever that may be, I feel beautiful and well. The physical location and objects are unimportant.
  17. Beauty and wellness in relation to HOME means to me, reflections of my attitudes in life, compromise in relationships. Supporting one an another as family, my lover and I. Knowing my home is a place of love and support and meaningful relationship.
  18. Home is an ever-changing concept to me. I used to believe it was the physical house; then I started to move a lot. Wherever my family and friends were seemed like it was all it would take to feel home. Then I found myself with family and friends all over the world. Now I feel home in any instant where I find myself feeling loved.
  19. Sanctuary, warmth in the presence of loved ones, protection from most things. Beautiful things created by my family to gaze at and reflect upon.
  20. Beauty and wellness at home is warmth, spices, food, negotiation of space, safeness, baking cookies, sunlight coming through the kitchen window in the evening.
  21. Home is knowing where I came from, and how I got to be the person I am today. I am lucky to have come from a place that has made me feel beautiful and well.
  22. Home is the idea that keeps me going when I am tired or scared. Knowing that eventually I can return home keeps me from losing myself.
  23. Home is nature for me. I feel home when I look around and all I see is green.
  24. Nested, comforted, protected, protecting, seeking inclusion for my family, which is a somewhat-changing but stable, and primarily self-selected
SELF-RESPECT (sensuality, pleasure, and creativity)
  1. When I feel better about myself, I am more confident and appreciate who I am.
  2. Beauty and wellness in relation to self-respect is thought, patience, time, breath.
  3. Knowing where to draw the line.
  4. Energetic, physical movement and physical contact, loved expressed and accepted, tiring sometimes but regenerative as well.
  5. Without self-respect, how can I expect to know how to respect anyone else around me?
  6. knowing I am a beautiful person because my lover loves me just the way I am. When I was single I had to learn love myself and being in a relationship i respect myself all the more.
  7. because only until I truly appreciated myself while single was when i suddenly met my boyfriend. it's my first relationship and I am 29 years old, I was doing a lot of soul searching.
  8. Self-respect spawns creativity and appreciation of beauty. Self-respect is a sign of wellness. Without my self-respect I would hate a lot of the things I love. I would envy them.
  9. Self respect, then, is fucking, getting fucked, loving it, desiring it, a disavowal of shame, the refusal of erasure.
  10. Self-respect, to me, is refusing the labels that those who refuse labels apply to me. That makes me feel beautiful and certainly well.
  11. It means that I am feeling happy and content about myself. That I respect my being, feelings, and intellect.
  12. Love yourself first in all aspects.
  13. You cannot love others until you learn to love yourself.
  14. Self-respect is what gives us the courage to draw boundaries and guidelines for how we can feel beautiful and well.
  15. Beauty and wellness in relation to self-respect means to me that I can find people who will treat me in a way where I feel whole and loved, rather than judged or misunderstood.
  16. Self-respect is knowing yourself and what you are comfortable with. Having self-respect allows me to make decisions that I am proud of and gives me the strength to share those decisions with the people around me.
  17. Gentle satisfactions from the presence of those I chose to be the most important aspects of my life. The greatest pleasures come from small interactions that seem to be minor but just keep expanding until I’m overwhelmed.
  18. Beauty and wellness cannot be felt without self-respect to show you that you are worthy of those feelings.
  19. Self-respect in relation to beauty and wellness means knowing what gives you pleasure and how to ask for it and also how to say no to the things that do not give you pleasure.
  20. I have found beauty and wellness within myself in my struggle with self-respect. The two are inexplicably linked in my mind now.
  21. I do not feel beautiful or well when I do not respect myself. I have done things in the past that I wish I could change but those errors are also signifiers for me for when I began learning to love myself more fully.
  22. I feel self-respect when I feel others respect me. However, it is still up to me to put forth a personality and self-confidence that makes others want to treat me with respect.
  23. Self-respect relates to self-awareness in my mind. Only when I know who I am can I set up boundaries for myself and those around me.
  24. I live every day trying to respect myself by respecting those around me.
  25. If self respect = sensuality, pleasure as is laid out here, then beauty and wellness is rooting our lives in a politics of desire. Wellness is the centering of this politic, in our own body, and the bodies of those we love.
SELF-WORTH (assertiveness and power in relation with others)
  1. When beauty and wellness are defined on my terms, I meet others with confidence and no need to be covert or with power games.
  2. Is anyone not worthy?
  3. The many years of work that brought only money was the least beautiful stage of my life. Had I realized how little I was actually gaining, I like to think that I could have walked away from it all for something better for me.
  4. Beauty and wellness in relation to self-worth is generosity, listening, opening my heart, evaluating my successes, accepting my stumbles.
  5. Beauty is power and smiles are relaxing. Neither of them ever lasts.
  6. Not compromising my values, being charitable and generous, learning to become a better listener to myself and others has cost me a few friendships and I couldn't be happier. I assert myself more and kept a lot of friends around me who treated me like dirt, they had to go.
  7. I think that worth is respectable, therefore my feelings about self-worth and self-respect are one and the same.
  8. Everyone is equal…right?
  9. That I can hold relationships with others who see my qualities and my flaws. I can share my experiences with others.
  10. Self-worth…? Collective–worth…?
  11. Self-worth is feeling empowered, alive, and above all, loved.
  12. As long as I am feeling beautiful and well then I believe I am worth something.
  13. All positive relationships are self-affirming and honest, negative relationships are explored and acknowledged as worthwhile, but if unsuccessful relegated to tolerance at some level.
  14. Beauty and wellness in relation to self-worth means that I can always find a reason to try harder, to improve myself. I don’t know what it means to be beautiful or well yet, necessarily, but I know that as long as I feel a sense of self-worth, I will keep looking.
  15. Self-worth is a concept that allows me to remember that as long as I am content with myself, I can bring beauty and wellness into the world.
  16. Self-worth is knowing when it’s best to put others before me but also to know when it is time to focus on myself.
  17. I am priceless.
  18. Self-worth in relation to beauty and wellness is knowing that you are worth what it takes to constantly improve.
  19. Self-worth relates to self-actualization. As long as I am aware that I am unique and cannot be replaced, I feel like an individual and can make my own decisions.
  20. I am worth the same as everyone else. There is no question about that.
  21. Love myself and I will love others too.
  22. Simply knowing that everyone is worth more and less than me at the same time in different ways.
LOVE (the ability to give and receive openheartedly to self and others)
  1. Anyone seen through the eyes of love is beautiful. Love is the lens of connection and acceptance.
  2. Love is many things but just like everything else, it comes to an end.
  3. I have taken a long time to recognize that the basis of love is standing emotionally naked in front of others and letting them see who you really are, without offering an explanation, an excuse, anything beyond a nodding head that says, yeah this is what it is.
  4. Beauty and wellness in relation to love means softness, going out on a limb, opening up my hands, sighing, laughing, crying, feeling.
  5. Myths and masks.
  6. True understanding and acceptance of others.
  7. Love is a journey and a destination. The two are inseparable.
  8. My yoga practice has taught me the love that comes in many forms, the love of learning, the love of giving my time, the love of helping others heal, and the love of healing myself and growing and trying to be a better person everyday, love for all living things, love for the power of the universe and how we are all interconnected, my love of a strangers smile.
  9. Giving and receiving love open-heartedly is a beautiful thing and breeds more beauty in everything that is done during the love's lifespan (Love is temporary).
  10. Love is kindness, compassion, sympathy, empathy, and trust.
  11. Beautiful love is a myth, yet the myth is what keeps many of us “well”.
  12. That I can share and receive the same love and respect that I give to others. That I love those who mean the world to me and I to them.
  13. Give love, receive love, and you shall be love. All without condition.
  14. Love is what makes us beautiful and well. Without love, we are nothing.
  15. Beauty and wellness in relation to love means to me that I can love someone without conditions, without hesitations. If someone truly loves me and I truly love them back, everything is open, everything can be discussed. Love is trust.
  16. Love allows me to feel whole and being beautiful and well are parts of feeling whole. Love gives me the strength and courage to be myself and allow myself to be open to feeling love.
  17. When I feel loved, I feel like nothing can touch me, that I am a world away from my problems and stresses. When I love someone, they are all I need. I become consumed with love and the feelings it gives me.
  18. Love is a word that we use to describe an entire range of emotions that are beyond the scope of our language.
  19. Love and sex are synonymous in a lot of ways. Love is fucking, sucking, and being proud and open about it all.
  20. Love means many things to different people. I haven’t made up my mind yet about how I feel about it.
  21. Like tap water and time and place are continents we circle around.
  22. Love is what I wake up for every day.
SELF-EXPRESSION (communication and the courage to change)
  1. Confidence about beauty and wellness opens us to the invitations to explore relationships and life opportunities.
  2. The ability to change, at a basic level, for someone else’s needs, without anger or regret or self-pity, is probably the most beautiful act I have achieved. I gave that which I was, a part of myself that would be different going forward, from love. The act was communicated through my behavior, not verbally, and it was probably more important to me than anyone else.
  3. The same act or expression can be rooted in beauty or ugliness, but you often can’t tell the difference.
  4. Wanting to always be a better person, my actions define my character and it's my responsibility to face challenges that test myself all the time. Humility, and difficult times are what makes my happiest times all the worth while, I seek balance and accept the hard times as needed growing tools.
  5. Self-expression is about never having to apologize for being exactly who you want to be.
  6. I find that my subconscious is more in control of how I express myself than my conscious mind. I believe that the things that are most important to me cannot be thought about consciously but must be forced out in a burst of creativity and raw emotion.
  7. The most thrilling experiences of my life have been ones of self-expression. In the queer community, there is a lot of pressure to conform in certain ways but to express myself in others. I find this contrast to be an interesting dynamic that very much affects the way I live my life.
  8. I personally find that i am at my least expressive when i feel the least well. This lack of wellness directs prevents my creation of beauty.
  9. Being bold enough to communicate my thoughts and ideas to others who share or not the same ideas. Giving my point of view when I have one. Being self-inspired.
  10. Be yourself, fuck what others think.
  11. As long as someone expresses themselves in a way that they are being true to what they believe, they are beautiful.
  12. Self-expression is my outlet to the world to show how I am both beautiful and well.
  13. I do not express myself often enough; I think if I did, I would feel more whole.
  14. Self-expression is a tool, just like the act of love, which you can use to your advantage or disadvantage. It’s up to you to decide how you use it and to judge whether or not you are using it well. What others think is not important.
  15. Continual effort at self-awareness and self-improvement in areas that negatively affect others, but not walking a line for its own sake. There is purpose to most things, but purpose does not equate to value.
  16. Self-expression, it’s just a term. I fight every day to figure out what it means to me.
  17. Expression is my destination, learning what it is that I want to say (what I want mySELF to be) is the journey.
  18. Self-expression is my outlet to show others that I am proud of myself, proud enough to want to share what’s inside with those around me.
  19. As long as I am honest and forthright with who I am and who I want to be, I feel beautiful and well.
  20. Beauty and wellness in relation to self-expression is strength, courage, holding on, being steadfast but communicative, radiating presence, energy, smiling.
  21. Self-expression is about giving out enough of ourselves to allow people to judge us for who we really are or at least who we want to look like we are.
  22. I feel most alive when I have shown people a side of myself I thought I would never share.
RESPONSIBILITY (intuition, vision and balance)
  1. Responsibility was a great weight in my life, that always restricted my options and limited my efforts. As I have matured, I realize that I can only be responsible for that which I truly embrace and willingly take on. Otherwise, I am somehow connected but not really responsible, because I am not honestly engaged. It is going through the motions.
  2. Beauty and wellness in relation to responsibility is envisioning my future - that I have one.
  3. Responsibilities are things that I should do just for myself. However, if I don’t do them, I will look like I don’t love myself, which will make others not love me too.
  4. Nothing. (This is actually what they wanted written, it wasn’t just blank)
  5. Balance, such a key factor in my yoga practice, balance in my physiology, balance on one foot, balance in my choices, balance in my diet, balance in my relationships, balance in my goals.
  6. There may be some connection between level of recklessness with responsibility and degree of wellness... Without beauty and wellness comes hopelessness, which demotivates.
  7. We all have responsibilities; it’s up to each of us to determine how big a role they will play in our lives.
  8. Beauty and wellness are my responsibility, and it is my responsibility to let other know that it is theirs too.
  9. Accept what you have done and never give away blame or a burden when it is yours to carry.
  10. Responsibility keeps me grounded and in check. I think that without responsibility, life would be very boring.
  11. Beauty and wellness in relation to responsibility means to me that it is up to me and only me to decide what it will take in order me for to feel beautiful and well. Fuck what society tells me to feel.
  12. I believe that it is my responsibility to help create a world where others feel beautiful and well, whatever that means to them.
  13. Living in a city, province, country, and world where many are less privileged than I, I feel that it is my responsibility to devote myself to helping when I can. If nothing else, it makes me feel beautiful and well to at least try.
  14. Responsibility to me means that I have to keep going, whatever it is that I’m doing. If I ever stop, I will have failed not only myself but everyone around me.
  15. Life is responsibility but sometimes you just have to say “fuck it” and have fun. Those are the times when I feel most beautiful and well.
  16. To me, responsibility does not correlate to feeling beautiful and well. It is much more often the thing that keeps me from feeling beautiful and well.
  17. Be able to look over myself at school, at work, at home. Take care of those who are weaker than I am. Provide them with help and support when needed.
  18. Beauty and wellness are a byproduct of responsibility. As long as you are responsible, you will find your life filled with beauty and wellness. I have always believed that and have found it to be quite true in practice.
  19. I feel beautiful and well once my responsibilities have been taken care of. Procrastinating is a sure way for me to feel ugly and unwell.
  20. I do not think about beauty and wellness when I think about responsibility. Responsibility means doing whatever it takes, beautiful or not, well or not, to get a task finished.
  21. Making your contribution to others in balance with what you reasonably need personally, and being aware of others needs as well as your own.
CONSCIOUSNESS (acceptance)
  1. It is only through accepting things, by owning them emotionally, can you derive beauty from them. Your consciousness must evolve to the point of realizing that there is a difference between owning things and being among things. Without this conscious embrace, you are at best parallel to your life, and the beauty and wholeness that is available will remain beyond your grasp until you reach this understanding.
  2. Beauty and wellness in relation to consciousness is choice.
  3. Being self-aware is the first step in realizing your self-worth. Self-worth will then teach you to respect yourself.
  4. Everything.
  5. Have I ever really been conscious?
  6. The universe is morally neutral, and all the more reason that we have to behave as moral creatures, for our own sake as well as the sake of others. The collective lives we lead are intertwined more than can ever be understood and so we have to honor that for everyone or lose it for everyone.
  7. Beauty is realized through acceptance. If you are completely at ease with your own consciousness, beauty flows more readily?
  8. Beauty and wellness are impossible without consciousness and acceptance.
  9. Consciousness is what allows us to know that we are loved. Without knowing that, how can we know how to love in return?
  10. That I am well-enough and beautiful enough to rest in peace at night, knowing that today I have done a good deed and that those who love me show me they care about me and that I give and return the same.
  11. Do your own thing yet respect others boundaries so as not to push your own agendas onto others.
  12. Accepting the things that I can change is just as important as accepting those I cannot. Sometimes telling the difference is the hardest part, other times having the courage to accept that I must strive to make the changes I want to see happen is even harder.
  13. Life is acceptance. Constant acceptance.
  14. Being self-aware is what makes me feel beautiful and well. As long as I know myself, I am happy.
  15. Conscious…unconscious…subconscious…?
  16. I know myself now more than I did five minutes ago. Ask me again in five more minutes.
  17. Beauty and wellness in relation to consciousness reminds me that I have no idea what it means to be beautiful or well. These are just words and the way I feel cannot be expressed through words. I guess being aware of this is a step, though.
  18. Being conscious means being aware of who I am and what I want out of my life. Beyond that, everything is icing on the cake.
  19. I feel more aware and conscious of myself when I am in a place of learning and growth. I need critical feedback and dialogue in order to feel whole.
  20. Consciousness means realizing that I have spent more time looking at other people’s bodies than my own, yet also knowing that we live in our bodies and it’s the constant push and pull of the consciousness of our bodies over the consciousness of our inner selves.
  21. Can I ever be conscious of myself without being self-conscious?
  22. Accepting change and going with the flow, a sign of following my path has brought me to a more beautiful outlook on life and I accept constantly, resistance simply brings us into cycle to face changes we inevitably will eventually have to deal with.