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Creative Connections Spring/Summer Recap

Updated: Sep 24

Soon after the onset of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, we recognized the impact of social distancing, in particular increased isolation. We collaborated with CVPR social workers to find new ways of offering connection, even virtually through a drop-in Creative Connections group. This weekly expressive arts group for survivors of interpersonal and community violence offered prompts, a place to be in community, and an opportunity to share progress on personal projects. If you weren’t able to join us for this offering, we would love to know if this would be helpful to resume this Fall. We also invite you to explore some of the activities we did together.


Week 1 Theme: Zentangles


Quote for reflection:


“The discipline of creation, be it to paint, compose, write, is an effort towards wholeness.” Madeleine L’Engle


The Zentangle Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. These patterns are drawn on small pieces of paper called "tiles." We call them tiles because you can assemble them into mosaics.


What You Need:


- square of blank paper (3.5 in.)

- a pencil

- a pen (typically with black ink)

- a straight edge (i.e. ruler, book, magazine).


To learn more, visit our YouTube Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnARCjuBiSy1IHjug4dU8XQ/playlists



How To Make a Zentangle:


1. Start by feeling gratitude and appreciation for your materials and the opportunity to create.

2. Place a light dot with your pencil in each corner about a pen's width from the edges.

3. With your pencil, connect the four dots to make a border. The border can be straight or curvy lines.

4. Within the square, use your pencil to draw a few light lines to separate your square into sections.

5. Fill your sections with different tangles. A tangle is a repeating pattern.

6. Use a pencil to add shading.

7. Initial and sign your Zentangle!

8. Appreciate your art.



Week 2 Theme: Gratitude


Quote: "Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life." -Rumi



Prompts


There was an invitation to create any kind of art (i.e. watercolor, journal entry, poem, sketch, collage, coloring) that resonates with you in response to the following prompts:


1. Think of one thing, place or experience you feel grateful for. Write or create art that expresses how this makes you feel.

2. Reflect on a person you feel grateful for and create art that expresses this.

3. Reflect on an element of yourself that you are grateful for, either present or past self.


We also had an option to share what we had been working on with the group.


For other ideas on how to create practices of gratitude, check out:

DIY Gratitude Jar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeWJXJw-XJ4

Prompts for a Gratitude Journal: https://www.developgoodhabits.com/gratitude-journal-prompts/


Week 3 Theme: Nature


We focused our expression in this group around nature. We shared these quotes for reflection:

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” -Lao Tzu


"In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they're still beautiful." -Alice Walker


There was an invitation to create any kind of art (i.e. watercolor, journal entry, poem, sketch, collage, coloring) that resonates with you in response to prompts such as:


-What is your current inner weather forecast?

- What are your favorite lessons from nature?


Some people also experimented with incorporating items from a nature walk (i.e. twigs, pine cones, rocks, leaves) directly into their art.

For other ideas or inspiration on how to create art from items in nature, check out CVPR’s youtube channel:


https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnARCjuBiSy1IHjug4dU8XQ/playlists




Week 4 Theme: Origami


We were led through an origami tutorial with options to follow the directions or to use paper in any sort of creative way. We shared this quote:


I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world.”~ Sadako Sasaki

There was an invitation to use paper folding techniques to make a lotus and a crane. You can find tutorials to revisit or try on your own here:

Lotus: https://origami.guide/origami-flowers/origami-lotus-flower/


Crane: https://origami.guide/origami-animals/origami-birds/traditional-origami-crane/


Paper cranes can be thought of as signs of hope and healing. In these physically distanced times, we thought it might be nice to set our sights on a communal art project for the future. The idea is that anyone who wants to make paper cranes on their own should make as many as they want. When we can be physically together at the hospital again safely, we will bring everyone's cranes together and make a community art piece. Stay tuned for details but go ahead and start folding if you are so inclined!

If paper folding is not your thing, you may like the following prompt instead:

"Take a moment to check in with yourself. What do you feel? Is there anything you need to express? Use the origami paper with or without other media to express what you need to express right now. Do you feel called to fold the paper or rip it and make a collage or paint it or smush it up into a ball? Let yourself lean into your impulses without judgement. "


If paper folding is absolutely your thing, you may like to also check out some of these inspirations:


Starbox: https://origami.guide/origami-boxes/origami-star-box/

Traditional senbazuru (1,000 cranes): https://www.japanvisitor.com/japan-house-home/senbazuru-one-thousand-cranes

Crane mobile: https://www.google.com/searchq=origami+crane+mobile&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwirzpnXhp3pAhWqgnIEHYq8BywQ_AUoAXoECBAQAw&biw=1200&bih=689

Bonsai tree: https://www.demilked.com/origami-cranes-bonsai-trees-naoki-onogawa/

Crane Wreath:

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/d1/cb/97/d1cb97d0718fe84a00a7f11cb4b663e3.jpg


Week 5 Theme: Kintsugi: Golden Repair, the Art of Precious Scars


This week we focused on the theme of Kintsugi, a Japanese art form that elevates the values of repair and embracing the beauty in struggles. You can read more about Kintsugi here: https://www.lifegate.com/people/lifestyle/kintsugi


We shared this quote:


“The wound is the place where the light enters you”. -Rumi.



We also talked about the meaning of different types of trees, finding particular strength in birch trees: "A birch tree symbolizes new beginnings, regeneration, and hope. From the book The Healing Power of Trees: birch is for ‘overcoming difficulties; pliability; re-establishing boundaries; purification and renewal; releasing old patterns and shedding unhelpful influences; [and] resolution of conflicts.’ As one of the first trees to grow after a fire or some other devastation, birch paves the way for the gradual return of life."​-Sharlyn Hidalgo (Full quote from the Birch House, which is " a supportive community dedicated to healing for female adult survivors of incest and childhood sexual abuse through programs, resources, education and advocacy" https://birch-house.org/about-our-name/ )

Prompts


There was an invitation to create art or writing in response to the following prompts:


1. Reflect on what your healing journey has looked like for you in the past, or an aspect of your journey to this point. Create a piece of art to express what your healing journey has looked like or felt like so far.


2. Think about a challenge you have experienced and overcome. Create a piece of art that expresses what it was like to experience that challenge and work through it. How did you feel during challenging times? How did you feel after you overcame that challenge?


3. Imagine what healing from trauma could look like for you. What could it look like? What could it feel like? What might you be doing?


4. Find magazines or newspapers or any colorful pieces of paper. Rip them up into pieces of any size. Think of a symbol you associate with healing and arrange the pieces into that shape. Or create a self-portrait with the pieces of paper that expresses the feeling you need to feel right now in this moment of your healing journey.


5. Thinking of your strengths, create art to express times you've overcome your struggles.


6. Create art to express strengths or something good that came from a a negative experience.


Week 6 Theme: Mandalas


This week our group focused on the theme of Mandalas, geometric configurations that center around circles, and can be thought of as symbols of unity and harmony. We shared and reflected together on this quote:


"We have before us the glorious opportunity to inject a new dimension of love into the veins of our civilization." --- Martin Luther King. Jr.


Here is an interesting article about how Tibetan monks engage in blessings through the creation of sand mandalas: https://dailycollegian.com/2018/04/tibetan-monks-bless-umass-through-the-creation-of-sand-mandalas/#modal-photo


Some of us traced household items in the shape of circles. Here is a video that may help get you started making a mandala and how to draw a mandala step by step: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3- tMYwFQwo&t=137s


An invitation of some prompts that might help you think about making or structuring a mandala:


1. Through your mandala art express what harmony and unity mean to you.

2. Using your mandala, express a story you would like to tell, or use it to express your goals and dreams.

3. Create your mandala using a theme (strengths, family, love, peace, Spring, etc) through drawings, colors, shapes, words etc.


There is also an ongoing invitation to make origami paper cranes, symbols of hope and healing, that can be brought together for a collaborative community project when we can be physically together at the hospital again in the future. I recently received a donation of origami paper! If you are interested in this collaborative community project and would like origami paper mailed to you, please let me know. For an origami tutorial, or other ideas for craft projects, check out our youtube channel:


https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnARCjuBiSy1IHjug4dU8XQ/playlists


Week 7 Theme: Serenity


This week our group focused on the themes of serenity, peace, and calm. We shared and reflected together on this quote:


"Serenity is not freedom from the storm but peace amid the storm."

-S A Jefferson-Wright​


We shared an invitation to create art or writing inspired by the following prompts:


1. Create a piece of ​art that shows a place where you feel peaceful. Where is your calm place? It can be imaginary or real. What kind of colors are in your calm place? Reflect on the colors, sounds, feelings, textures, and smells in this calm place while you create it.


2. Create a piece that expresses the feeling of calm, peace, and serenity. How do you want to represent this feeling? Use any colors and media that you feel called to use.


3. Reflect on if there are times when you feel calm in your body. Are there certain parts of your body that feel calm? Create a self-portrait that expresses what calm in your body looks like for you.


Week 8 Theme: Expression Inspired by Music


We focused our expression around music, sound, imagination, and creativity. We shared and reflected on these quotes:


“Music is art, and art is an integral part of the human experience.”

--Anne Frasier


“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited, Imagination encircles the world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”

―Albert Einstein


There was an invitation to create any kind of art (i.e. watercolor, journal entry, poem, sketch, collage, coloring) that resonates with you while intentionally listening to music or the sounds around you. We listened to this piece of music together and shared our reflections: https://youtu.be/mZUktnHeRK0


There was an invitation to be inspired by the following prompts while listening to the song or the noises naturally in our surroundings:


What colors, shapes, images or thoughts come to mind while listening to the music?

1. What words come to mind while listening to this music? Use those words to create a poem or other creative piece to express your own interpretation of the music.


2. What song, or sound makes you feel happy when you hear it? Is there a way to translate that into art?


Week 9 Theme: Affirmations


For anyone who was unable to join us at that time or anyone that wants a recap to continue their work, we focused on the theme of Affirmations, positive reminders or statements that can be used to encourage or motivate yourself and others. We shared and reflected on these quotes:

“Affirmations are our mental vitamins, providing the supplementary positive thoughts we need to balance the barrage of negative events and thoughts we experience daily.”

― Tia Walker


You can find examples of affirmations from Louise Hay here:

https://www.louisehay.com/affirmations/

There was an invitation to create art in response to the following prompts:

1. Think of an affirmation that speaks to you. Paint a rock with your affirmation. Keep the rock for yourself, give it to someone, or leave it outside for someone to find!

2. Create an affirmation sign for yourself. Think of an affirmation that you want to cultivate in your life and create a sign with the affirmation on it. Maybe hang the sign up in a spot where you can see it every day to remind yourself of your affirmation.


3. Reflect on what you need right now in your healing journey. Think of an affirmation that meets that need. Create a piece of art that expresses your need and your affirmation. What does it feel like to imagine and believe in your affirmation?


4. Create a self-portrait of your future self experiencing the full expression of your affirmation. What will you notice? What will be different for you? How will that affect your life and your relationships? ​


If you are looking for ideas for other craft projects, check out our youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnARCjuBiSy1IHjug4dU8XQ/playlists


Week 10 Theme: Transformation


For anyone who was unable to join us at that time or anyone that wants a recap to continue their work, we focused on the theme of Transformation and the healing process. We shared and reflected on this quote:


“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”― Maya Angelou


We also talked about how butterflies can symbolize growth and change, and how the metamorphosis process can be symbolic of the journeying that survivors do in their own healing.

There was an invitation to create art in response to the following prompts, exploring the theme of transformation in any way that most resonates:


1. Draw a butterfly (could be by tracing your hands on paper). In the wings/hands draw, write, or cut and paste images/symbols that reflect the following: challenges you have overcome, strengths, positive people in your life, places of calm and safety.

2. Draw/paint/collage yourself in the environment that you would like to see around you, imagining with all your senses about what type of place that might be and what you might find there.


Journal prompts:

1. What are some of the skills you’ve learned in your own healing journey? In what ways have you grown?


2. Reflect on what you need right now in your healing journey, wherever you may be in the metamorphosis process. Think of a symbol or image that meets that need. Create a piece of art that expresses your need and your transformation goals.

If you are looking for ideas for other craft projects, check out our youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnARCjuBiSy1IHjug4dU8XQ/playlists


As always, if anyone is interested in having their art/writing work (either from the group or otherwise) showcased on platforms including the SLC website or social media, please feel free to let me know and we can talk more about these opportunities. You can also email the Survivor Leadership Collective directly at slchealing@gmail.com. You can choose to share with your name, with a random name, or as anonymous.




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