Coping with Loss Through Art
I Rise by Amanda Bhikha (pictured right)
As a child, I loved to draw, but it was the passing of my older brother that made me use it for more than just cartoons. Art became my way of expressing myself. I couldn't explain how I felt about it until I reached adulthood. I studied at OCAD University for Illustration and Sheridan College for Child and Youth Care. In my thesis year at OCAD, I self-published a graphic novel telling my story about the day my brother passed away, allowing me to finally communicate how I felt.
Since then, I have used my life experiences, my love of art and other skills to work with youth at risk, hoping that they will find ways to help express themselves through art. I have also painted murals with young people in schools across the GTA to create more inviting learning spaces for children and youth.
I founded Ravinzangel in 2016 to honour and remember my brother Ravin, who passed away from suicide in 1995. My artwork/designs are inspired by my own guardian angel, what I've learned about loss and have featured positive affirmations. True to the name, I love and often paint and draw angel wings using acrylic paint, markers and more but I also experiment with other subject matter, such as horror. My work is reproduced as wearable art in the form of clothing and accessories. I have even created colouring books with the hope that those who use my products feel empowered, inspired and loved.
Through Ravinzangel, I've been able to share my experience of losing a loved one to suicide and using art as a continuous coping strategy with various organizations such as Broadening Horizons and Sheridan College’s Child and Youth program.
Earlier this month, Ravinzangel received an Arts and Culture award at the Brampton Board of Trade's Business Excellence Awards ceremony. Winning the award was a huge surprise but it solidified that I have made a positive impact on the community through my art. I hope that my angel-inspired art will continue to uplift those who really need it!