2018 Summer Arts Workshop Focuses on Connecting with Others

This year’s Summer Arts Workshop (SAW), an annual weeklong, therapeutic, art-making workshop sponsored and facilitated by LMU’s Graduate Department of Marital and Family (Art) Therapy, had an overarching theme of “Vibrations: Reflect, Resonate, Relate.” Over the course of the week, middle-school student participants from Dolores Mission School created unique individual pieces which were projected on to a collaborative large scale paper installation piece at a final exhibition at the end of the week

According to SAW Director and Lecturer of Marital and Family Therapy Jessica Bianchi, this type of work couldn’t be more important for these young students. “When you do the inner work you naturally project out to connect with others,” she said. “The way we feel about ourselves is how we attract others and understanding relationships help us see ourselves with more clarity. We can use the art process to excite others with our “vibration” and visa versa when we observe the art of others.”

Students began by reflecting on the different layers that make up who they are. Starting with a canvas panel and acrylic paint, participants created a background using colors that represented different parts of self. Next, participants used image transfer techniques and mixed media collage to add additional layers that reflected their unique identities. Day three was about resonating with others and focused on a mirror activity in which dyads sat on either side of a clear plastic panel and painted opposite of each other silently mirroring the others marks. On day 4, participants discussed space and relevance to relationships. The group brainstormed different types of spaces where they feel connected to each other and used this as inspiration to create a collaborative large scale paper installation piece that their individual pieces were than projected on to during the final exhibit. 

Each day of the workshop began with snacks and an icebreaker that was tied to the days activities and essential question. Then MFT mentors presented, and demonstrated through brief workshops, the art task that was the focus of the day. Participants were given space to create and mentors and junior mentors assisted as needed. Following lunch, the group was led in a mindfulness activity and journal time facilitated by junior mentors, and focused on the question of the day. And to finish out each day, the group was taken back to Burns Recreation Center to swim or play basketball.

The final exhibition of the students’ work was held on August 10, 2018 in University Hall. The individual pieces were featured along the Skyway, along with the mirroring pieces. The exhibition featured the large scale paper installation project which included three different projectors on three different sides featuring images of the artwork as well as the art-making process. Participants were given certificates and glow in the dark shoelaces that would continue to light their way on their own unique journey.