Children's Journal Making Workshop 

Men Art Therapy September.jpg

A group middle-schoolers gathered together at Laney Garden in Lake Merritt in Oakland, California, as a part of an IRC-sponsored summer camp for an art workshop in which they decorated their own new journals. The art workshop, organized by ARTogether, is a part of ARTogether’s mission to bring local art to refugee and immigrant communities.

After the kids sat down, they stopped their conversations and turned to the local artist, Farnaz Tasbihgoo, for further instruction. Farnaz, who was born in Tehran, Iran, and has a master’s degree in Fine Art Photography, works with ARTogether to connect her art practice with youth. She was immediately welcomed by the children, many of whom also were from Iran and shared the language.

Men Art Therapy October.jpg

Farnaz explained that it was the participants who were the real artists, giving them both the materials and the freedom to decorate their journals in whatever way they pleased. At first, some looked confused, not knowing how to proceed. Luckily others such as Eldana, a participant from Somalia, took advantage of the creative freedom and started to experiment with their journals. Eldana even started a popular trend when she used the colorful letters to spell out her name on her journal. Another creative idea came from Tawab, from Afghanistan, who decided to use the decorate shells to make a necklace to hang from the journal like a purse.

As they decorated, some participants began to wonder why journals were the chosen medium, rather than simple paper. Farnaz and the event organizers explained that with journals they can begin to document their memories from the summer camp.


The participants seemed to really enjoy the workshop -- so much so that they didn’t want it to end and even asked for some art supplies to take home and finish their journals. Furthermore, IRC asked ARTogether to return and continue organizing art workshops for the middle-schoolers. ARTogether excitedly accepted and will continue to host art workshops with IRC as a part of their ongoing effort to connect immigrant and refugee communities to art.