Shanina Dionna

Shanina dionna (she/they) is a visual and performing artist, non-profit founder and educator, mental health advocate, and certified PCEA (Person-Centered Expressive Arts) facilitator based in West Philadelphia.

Since 2012, their arts advocacy has helped bridge the gap between local wellness institutions and marginalized communities throughout the Greater Philadelphia area. Exploring the visual and performing arts as healing modalities dates back to their childhood. Personal narratives regarding mental health diagnoses, hospitalization, and therapy treatments; self-care practices and holistic measures for psychological healing; relational dynamics and building community; diversifying creative practices, and finding harmony in everyday life add reference and value to their research on connection, accessibility, and the human condition.
As a passionate, self-taught painter, expressive movement artist, installation artist, photographer, and filmmaker, shanina dionna learned to build language and relationships to help advocate for mental health and wellness in underserved communities. Current influences in their work include metal welding and fabrication; glass, optics and light studies; and earth-based paint pigments.

In 2016, they created the youth arts program, @artbudsphilly, currently housed at the Urban Art Gallery in West Philadelphia. In 2018, they became one of twenty artists worldwide to receive the inaugural TDC20 Grant (The Dean Collection 20) presented by musicians and married art couple, Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz. With ongoing support from DBHIDS (the Department of Behavioral Health & Intellectual Disability Services) of their exhibition series centered around mental health, “embryo” (2012-2021), they helped provide free resources and professional support to attendees – the organization’s first partnership of its kind.
shanina dionna’s practice in the healing arts sector has since garnered the support of both national and international opportunities including: exhibiting for the Platforms Project Independent Art Fair at Nikos Kessanlis in Athens, Greece; presenting for A Conference on Social Determinants of Community Well-Being by the University of Southern California; performing at the Affordable Art Fair in New York City; facilitating for Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Women’s Re-Entry program serving previously incarcerated women; currently facilitating Expressive Arts Healing workshops at Fleisher Art Memorial; partnerships with the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia Museum of Art, the National Liberty Museum and Moore College of Art & Design; and earning their first fellowship with Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Black Artists Fellowship.

In a 2020 interview, Philadelphia Magazine recognized them as the “Philly artist creating a positive space for mental health conversations.” After receiving certification from the Person-Centered Expressive Arts Institute in 2021, they launched an independent “Expressive Arts Healing” practice – facilitating in partnership with local schools, non-profits, and cultural organizations serving children, teens, and adults in the Greater Philadelphia area and beyond.

Shanina dionna is currently a senior at Temple University with a study focus on art therapy and aspirations to study abroad for their master’s as it relates to the arts, humanities, psychology, and social change.

Last updated: Dec 12, 2023