Building Community and Acceptance Through Art
The main focus of the DrawBridge groups is art exploration and expression, but one DrawBridge facilitator sometimes adds elements of cooperation and cultural exchange during her time with the children.
Rebecca S. runs a group at Clara House, and with two Muslim participants, her kids recently created art projects focused on Ramadan, a holy month in the Islamic calendar. While they listened to Arabic music and talked about customs and traditions, they created paper lanterns and paper chains; both are time-honored decorations associated with the holiday.
“Listening is a big part of being a facilitator,” says Rebecca, “so when Sara mentioned knowing how to make lanterns and wanting to decorate Clara House with them for Ramadan, I saw this as a fun group project.” It also presented the perfect opportunity to blend art and culture.
While the artists were busy creating, Rebecca led a discussion around “sharing and learning about another culture, entering gently and thoughtfully into a conversation about race, and feeling comfortable enough to ask questions about the unknown.
“Simply put, my goals are to promote collaboration and build personal confidence through art.”
Cooperation and a collaborative spirit came to the forefront again when the group created self-portraits. To make the outline, the kids worked together in the dark, with one child using a flashlight to illuminate the profile of another, while a third traced the silhouette onto a paper background. The profiles were then either cut out or painted, or sometimes both.
Success is measured in the smiles, the spirit, the creative masterpieces, and the eager return to the art group the following week.