Sunday, 11 February 2018

Art Therapy and Volunteering


- Somya (Curriculum Support and Operations)
Group Work
As we had written sometime back, none of the deep work that we do can be done without our volunteers. Vasundhara is one such volunteer. She joined our journey even before we started. She trusted us with her time even when we were not sure what the possible paths could be (not to talk of the correct path). Vasundhara is our Art Therapist. (She wrote this small piece for us two years back)
Leaves and Art
Our very first engagement with Vasundhara, way back in September 2015, was to paint the circle on which we have always conducted our circle time. A small tool that helps children anchor themselves to the routine of schooling. This circle around which children sit and choose to talk about the mundane, their deep dark fears, their relationships, their emerging understanding of the world - this is the circle which gives us an idea of how our day might pan out with a child!
For almost two and a half years now Vasundhara has worked with 150+ different children at our centers. She follows some very basic principles of engaging with them. These principles are very powerful. Mentioning some of them here in her own words (with the hope more art engagements will move from pure skill building to touching the child meaningfully) -
  • “using symbols they will be able to relate to anywhere they go eg: sun, moon, trees, birds, water, buildings, people. This is keeping in mind that these children will move from villages and towns and from one city to another and should find something familiar that they can connect with wherever they go.
  • using minimal material which is easily available to them. Activities are done with sand, thread, clay, fabric scraps, cardboard, pamphlets, charcoal, candles, stones, newspaper, etc. The idea is to give them an idea that art can be created with simple, everyday objects. Also, I sometimes use wool, inkpads, stamps, blocks to introduce them to new material that they may not have used/seen before.
  • creating a space where they can express their feelings. Planning activities that require them to think, introspect or dip into their memory and imagination. Doing this settles them and once they are engrossed in the activity there is silence. The aim is to help them prolong the duration of this silence gradually.
  • planning activities to bring in collaboration and cooperation. There may be 2 or 3 steps in the activity so they have to wait their turn, or wait for others to finish. Working in groups helps them share material. Limited resources like scissors, glue helps them learn to wait and not grab. It also helps them observe and assist others in the group if required.
  • using activities that are open ended and with minimal instructions. A few triggers are given and they can come up with their own creativity. The art work is not marked or judged. They are encouraged to talk about their art work only if they choose to. 
  • bringing in the basic art elements in subtle ways for them to observe and make connections eg: colour mixing, shading techniques, usage of space on the page, and such.”

The simplicity of her engagement is extremely beautiful and transformative.

Thank you Vasundhara for being an integral part of our journey!

4 comments:

  1. Indeed awe inspiring !wonderful work Gubbachi

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  2. Thanks Swat, for stopping by! Our children are our inspiration! We need all the encouragement! Please do keep stopping by once in a while.

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