High School Students Honor Gifts of their Family

I was honored to teach a workshop to youth at the Asian Counseling Resource Services up in Seattle in February. Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS) is the largest multiservice organization serving all the different Asian Pacific American communities – immigrants, refugees and American born – in the Pacific Northwest. Their mission is to promote social justice and the wellbeing and empowerment of Asian Pacific American individuals, families and communities – including immigrants, refugees and native born – by developing, providing and advocating for innovative community-based multilingual and multicultural services.

The Gifts of our Family workshop was 3.5 hours and offered to youth involved in ACRS’s student community advocate program. They came equipped with photocopies of family members they wanted to focus on in the workshop. Different loved ones were honored including uncles, mothers, nephews, cousins, sisters, and brothers.

I began by showing a slideshow of how I create art of my family using found objects, photographs, and writing. I then conducted a short visual meditation to get them in tune with details and memories of their loved one. They did some writing of memories, words, descriptions of their family member.

Next I demonstrated painting a background using acrylic paints. The students really enjoyed this part of the lesson and some did many layers of paint, using a blow dryer between colors.

It was time to add the photographs and writing. I appreciated the camaraderie which developed among the students, as they told stories about the family members they were focusing on. Many of the youth had not met before.

Lastly they embellished their pieces by gluing materials like shells, flowers, sticks. Some of the students used needle and thread to accent their pieces. The sewing reminded them of an activity they did with their mother. Two girls added string weavings, another memory of something they did as children.

We originally started out with the idea of cutting out a circular shape for the completed pieces, but some students used the whole paper for their creations so we decided to keep those intact.

At the end of the workshop each student stood up and proudly showed their art. Each of them got a round of applause from their fellow artists.

The pieces are currently displayed at ACRS. Below are some of the pieces which were made in the workshop.


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