I had the honor of facilitating and collaborating with Legacies of War on a History, Healing, and Hope Community Workshop at ArtXchange Gallery in Seattle.
I led a workshop exploring how art can be a powerful force in expressing history and personal experiences. Legacies of War is a non-profit that uses art, culture, education, community organizing and dialogue to bring people together and create healing and transformation out of the wreckage of war.
Legacies’ representative Sakuna Thongchanh and I spent a great deal of time on the phone talking about Laotian imagery and icons before settling on a tree to be the framework for the workshop. I constructed the tree in Half Moon Bay in California and drove it up to Seattle in my little Toyota pickup.
The morning before the workshop Sakuna and I collected various materials specific to Laos, to be used for the individual memory art creations – things like banana leaves, tamarind seeds, spices, papers, tea, orchids and rice. These were laid out beautifully on fabulous fabric, along with ribbons, and scissors, and threads, and photos.
Sakuna did a short lecture about her organization and I showed examples of how I use art as a healing and storytelling vehicle for my own family and culture. I then lead a grounding meditation and posed questions to help the participants form their writings and imagery for their memory art pieces. It was very special that different generations came together to work on this creative healing. The created works were hung on a Memory Tree structure.
The entire Memory Tree work will now travel as part of Legacies’ educational art exhibitions, where more people will have chances to add their stories to its branches.
DID YOU KNOW?
* Each year there continue to be close to 300 new casualties in Laos. About 40% of accidents result in death, and 60% of the victims are children.