Expressive Art : Art Journal II

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Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants (CERI) in Oakland hosted to another journal making workshop in December 2017. It was the second part of a series of six classes that artist and art educator Alice Pennes offered as part of ARTogether’s effort to bring color and art to the refugee community of Alameda county.

Alice began the class reminding a group of five high school students, all female, that this is a safe space but sharing their feelings and/or work is optional. She went on to teach the girls how to transform their pages into books by binding them using needles and thread. They folded the pages that they started the previous session and with a few stitches, each of the girls had a book that they created with their own hands. As soon as the books were made, the fun began adding color and filling the pages with their unique visions.


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Alice provided many colors and encouraged the group to use the colors that reflected their emotions. She taught them about primary and secondary colors and showed them how to mix colors to make new colors. Each girl chose a color for their day; one chose red, another purple, and another blue, a reflection of each of the unique personalities coming together to create! The girls used their hands to paint and mix the colors, one even including her handprints on the pages of their journals. Quite the signature! At the end of the workshop Alice asked the girls how they felt and if the workshop had any effect on their feelings.

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The girls agreed that painting, especially with their fingers, helped them to stop thinking about the outside world. Another found it therapeutic to play with paints and make art with friends without the pressure to finish a project as one may feel in a formal class setting.