Feeling Through Arts
Going to any school one is assured to learn the alphabets and the numbers. If one continues to be engaged in the classroom, the teachers may be able to communicate basics of the sciences, peppered with some art and drama. However few schools go the extra step. Is this academic knowledge enough for the children to be effective members of the society or do schools need to go beyond academics and look to developing other aspects of the individual?
I was lucky enough to study in a school which placed great importance in inculcating essential values in its students. As students, we were encouraged to share our experiences and how we felt. The aim was to sensitize others and prevent incidents where children felt isolated or singled out. Honesty, empathy, respect, cooperation, responsibility, sharing, sense of belonging and inclusion were just some of the values that we focussed on. The teachers and students were expected to incorporate these values as a way of life. Moving on to a different school in a foreign country, I still hold these values close to my heart. These guiding principles have gotten me through difficult moments and have helped me maintain good relationships with those in my world.
Most kids tend to run a mile when parents or teachers or any adult for that matter tries to tell them what is right vs. what is wrong. So how to talk to the young ones? How to get them to think about these important values without making it sound like a lecture? If the message is delivered through a fun experience, it is more likely to stay. Therefore to be able to share the importance of these values with others I thought to marry my love for art with the values that have stood me in good stead.
I will share simple art activities that can be done at home or in the classroom. These activities are easy to find across the web. What I have done is connected them and used them as tools to talk about essential values that should be part of our inherent makeup and as a means for the expression of feelings that may be lurking under the surface.
A World Without Boundaries
Zentangles are a fun, relaxing and easy way of creating a beautiful abstract image with structure patterns. To make zentangles all you need is
a black pen
a piece of white paper
In this exercise there are no mistakes and nothing can be wrong. By using black pen it is not possible for one to distinguish what was intended and what was not.
Make a border on all four sides of the page.
Draw curving lines within the box. The lines should always touch the border atleast at one end. This gives structure to the design, as they would have created compartments.
Fill in the compartments with different patterns like circles, stara, lines, dots or any design that comes to your mind. The only thing to remember is that within a compartment only one pattern should be filled in.
Once it is completed, sit back and look at the artwork.
- See each shape as people with different characteristics
- Notice how the curvy lines that had separated these patterns are not easily visible
- Feel how these different shapes are coming together to make a beautiful painting.
While making zentangles a lot of repetition occurs and due to this the body is calmed. When the body and the mind is more relaxed, we are able to think, accept and talk about things which we may not do so readily otherwise.
Talking about this artwork, we can explore sense of belonging. Seeing the paper as our world (classroom, school, family, home) and the curvy lines as the boundaries we create in our mind. The different shapes are the people with different characteristics (physical appearance, social standing, special abilities).
First we look at the paper and it is blank. Then we start to fill it with different shapes and it becomes a beautiful painting. Similarly when we fill our world with people who are all different, we come together to make the world a beautiful place.
A student of art and psychology, Rhea is currently studying in Singapore. Art has been her happy place for as long as she can remember. While using art for therapy is nothing new, Rhea wants to explore how simple art exercises can be used at home or in the school to express feelings and teach values to kids who like her fall in the middle of the bell curve.