When art and people meet together- community art and its impact beyond individual self
Last year was the time for me becoming more and more community artist that I imagined. Some new connections and contracts meant I started regular delivery of expressive arts session to diverse groups of people. What I did not predict was the impact it would have on my own awareness and understanding how art is needed in communities.
Running art session within community is definitely something creating both- challenges and opportunities. Also the nature of work is not for everyone. As much as we often adore group sessions there are certain aspects of them that not all artistic personalities will be able to deal with. Diversity of group members means you may be jumping from one advanced learner to the total beginner. You need to know how to make them all welcomed and encouraged at the same time. Open nature of sessions means people may join in in the middle of the class, so your planning is out of the window. There may be presence of neurodiversity, special learning needs and variety of health conditions that you must consider when somebody wants to take a part in art activity. Shortly speaking if you are not able to tune into those people and their way of experiencing the world this will not work well. Compassion, kindness and empathy are in my personal experience the priority in any community based art session because they open the gate- gate to the creativity explored in kind and non-judgemental way. It doesn’t matter if somebody created the masterpiece during this session. The time spent there, being able to choose the way to create, being creatively accepted, not judged is far, far more important here. Art has many powers we tend to overlook when we only search for visual aspect. Art goes beyond that visual and this is mainly the reason I decided to devote my profession to it. What happens during community based classes is not visible straight away to our eyes. Yes artwork is created and often it is mind blowing how people without any background in art can come up with so wonderful pieces. However, the biggest and strongest power of community art sessions is its fearless fight with social isolation. There is human connection created through the creative connection. There is something about creative activities that makes it possible to overcome the human desperate feeling of isolation or detachment. It feels like creative force flies through all of us and makes it possible to feel the part of something bigger that ourselves. Those are so far my personal lessons from community arts session and I hope there are more to come in future. I feel privileged to experience and being present during those times of human creative unity during the sessions.
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