Expressive Art: Art Journals 

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A group of high school students arrived at the Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants (CERI) on September 19th unsure of what to expect. As they finished their bubble tea and settled into the room, the girls curiously looked around as they wondered what would happen next. The girls laughed amongst themselves as Alice, a local artist, prepared to teach one of her favorite art workshops: journal making.

Alice introduced herself to the girls and shared her excitement about the workshop and her partnership with ARTogether. ARTogether, a local nonprofit that seeks to connect refugee and immigrant communities with the Bay Area art scene, organized the journal-making event as a part of a workshop series with CERI. This journal-making event was one of many workshops put together by ARTogether in their ongoing effort to show how art can help anyone and everyone.

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Indeed, Alice began the workshop with a personal anecdote about how her art practice and personal journal have helped her learn about herself. Alice flipped through the full, vibrant pages of her own journal as she explained how each page reminded her of a memory in her life. By using both art and words in her journal, Alice said the journal helped her learn to express herself in new and creatives ways. The goal of the workshop -- she hoped -- was for the girls to be able to do the same.


Alice then passed out the art materials: scissors, watercolor palettes, markers, crayons, yarn, and reusable paper bags from whole foods. The girls grabbed their favorite colors and eagerly awaited instruction. Some of the girls seemed confused by the materials, but Alice assured them that the paper bags would soon transform into wonderful journal pages, it was just a matter of time. As the girls began to put together their journals, they experimented with colors and materials. Sharing ideas as they compared their creations.

Alice encouraged the girls to explore their creativity and collaborate with each other. As the girls talked about what inspired their work, the conversation turned to their personal lives -- their feelings, experiences, and ambitions for the future. Their hands worked quickly away at their journals as they laughed and talked about their days.

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When the workshop eventually came to an end, the girls left with wide smiles on their faces and freshly created journals clasped in their hands -- some of the girls who added handles to their journals carried them like a purse, while others tucked them safely under their arms. Although the workshop concluded a bit too soon, the girls promised to use their journals until the next workshop in October.