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Saturday, 22 April 2017

Visual Storytelling

Last year I delivered Visual Storytelling workshops to the Children's Discovery Museum here in Saskatoon. This spring I was honored to offer a similar opportunity to newcomers; specifically immigrant and refugee women.  Let me just say that I REALLY like being hired to work with groups to do art related projects.  This workshop was something I put together myself, based on the concept of paper quilts.  Using paper and fabric and scissors and glue, participants made 'quilt' blocks based on themes.  The resulting collection of finished blocks were put in poster frames.

On Day 1, with the help of translators, the theme I gave was 'what makes you strong?'  The blocks they made then became all about family, children, inner strength, and skill sets.  I was pleasantly surprised at how open the women were to jumping in and creating symbolic versions of their very personal and often painful stories.  Of course, I had needles and threads there for some extra embellishing.  It was great to see their existing talents really shine through with their creations.

This is Emily who runs the Women's Program at the Saskatoon Open Door Society

On Day 2, the topic revolved around future.  The women were asked to create pieces that spoke to the hopes and dreams they have for themselves, for their children, and for their new life here in Canada. They had so much to say.  It was important to add text to the art for people to better understand the meaning in the symbolism.  Even for myself, I wouldn't have known the stories behind the shapes. All of the stories are incredibly moving.

At the end of the week, there was a wonderful event!  There was a Women's Celebration put on by the Saskatoon Open Door Society that all the newcomers were invited to attend. There were guest speakers, performances, and a cultural fashion show too!  (A joy for me to photograph for the hosting organization with so much fabric, colour and embellishments!)

Then these brave women from my group had the opportunity to stand with their pieces in front a large hall full of women.  One by one, they went to the microphone to tell their stories.

The Women's group sharing their stories at Queen's House of Retreat

Some required the aide of translators.  Some spoke alone.  There were tears and silence and smiles and applause.  And you know... when one women starts crying - well, everyone teared up.  It was amazing for me to watch their determination in sharing what they went through and what they hope for, even if it was a painful thing to share.

I will be doing a repeat of this workshop one more time with the next group of newcomers in May so that we will have a good amount of art to fill the gallery space I've secured.  I am excited to have a public spot booked for the month of June where all of these pieces can be seen!  My goals for this project are to create a safe space in our community for these women to tell their stories because their stories are important, and in turn educate the public in the hopes of moving toward acceptance.

Thank you so much to Emily and to the Saskatoon Open Door Society, and of course, to the amazing participants.  : )


Sunday, 16 April 2017

Sketchbook Sunday #2

I've been filling sketchbooks like mad.  Lately, I've even been sketching things that don't interest me!  (!?  what ??)  Let me explain.  April is International Fake Journal Month.  The theme for this year's challenge is 'detail,' and you are encouraged to pick a character or topic that you know nothing about.  So, I picked Dr. Ilsa Schmetterling.  She is a retired biologist who still has some butterflies on her bucket list.  I'm working quite diligently on being her.  Each morning, I pick a butterfly from my reference books and I sketch it.  Folks involved in the fake journal challenge use a lot of different mediums as an effort to experiment.  I'm using a black ink pen and colouring in with pencil crayons. That's enough challenge for me!

It's been a great learning experience.  I'm learning about patterns, names, and habitats of some butterflies.  I've added the inclusion of details on each one's host plant as well.  I spend as much time cross referencing as I am sketching.

I'm learning about their life cycles and their specific characteristcs.  It's so interesting!  I'm having loads of fun with social media.  I have always been comfortable with drawing, however, I am definitely feeling the challenge with all this symmetry!  That takes some skill.  Considering that I am only half way through the month, I'm welcoming all this practice.

Here are some of my sketches that I've made so far...

There you go.  Happy Sunday!

Monday, 10 April 2017

Love for Liz

As you may or may not know, Liz Friswell, the owner of Tiger Lily Quilting quilt shop in southern Saskatchewan, is dealing with a stage 4 brain tumor.  She is now in the local nursing home.  With permission of the shop, let's send her some love by making her a 4x6" quilted postcard and mailing to: 

'Love for Liz' c/o 
Box 476
Wolseley SK
SOG 5HO Canada

There is a quick tutorial in my menu bar.  ***Please remember to send postcards without envelopes (or they aren't really a postcard).  I sent one last week, but what the heck, right!?  You can't possibly have too much love.  I'm sending another this week.  I hope you know Liz and you are able, that you'll send one too.

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