Honoring ancestors through art

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What a beautiful offering we created on Sunday! Nine wonderful women came together to focus on an ancestor of their choice in a workshop I facilitated at JFKU, Berkeley. The class was in conjunction with the “Distillations, Meditations on the Japanese American Experience” exhibition that is at JFKU till September 18.

Everyone came in the classroom in a bit of a whirlwind – the traffic, the heat, time, just navigating life to make it there! Yet by the time the participants finished the workshop, I felt the shift that focus, creativity, and sharing can make.

We started with a tour of the Distillations exhibition, focusing on those pieces that were about ancestors. The work in the gallery is done by four Sansei Japanese American women: Reiko Fujii, Lucien Kubo, Shizue Seigel, and myself, Judy Shintani.

The workshop participants shared a bit about their intentions for the art making day. I really value the group that comes together to share the space. It was wonderful bunch of artists of different ages, ethnic backgrounds and art experience.

I led a visualization meditation to help them access some details and clarification for their process and they spent some time journaling to capture what came out of the meditation.

Then I gave a short demonstration on painting backgrounds with acrylic paints and using the glue gun. We were using bases of pizza rounds to create the ancestor mandalas, bringing in the sacred aspects of the circle – wholeness and unity.

Artists spent the next 2.5 hours working on their pieces, integrating photos, fabric, sewing, string, paint, pastels, organic materials, writing, buttons, and paper.

At the end we all shared our works that honored grandfathers, uncles, mothers, grandmothers, home, parents, sisters. I appreciated the stories and the art making, the sharing of love, tears, commonality.

A big thank you to all the participants, JFKU for providing the space and publicity, Jen for putting up great directional signs, Jane for helping me set-up and sharing her wonderful materials, and Shelley for helping me clean up.


2 thoughts on “Honoring ancestors through art

  1. I truly enjoyed “Honoring our Ancestors” workshop especially the meditational part. It brought me to a different level and prepared me for the art work I’m about to make. Meeting all of the women participants was also inspiring.

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