Art Place

Project check-in with Karen Balcome

Karen Balcome

March 23, 2016

What changes did you notice in the participants through the course of your workshops?

Over the course of the time we’ve had together, the participants have become more open to sharing their creativity and self-expression, whether it is through their personal writing, the characters they bring to life, or the sense of humour they bring to their performances. I have seen them explore and gain confidence in their own impulses. There is a greater trust that has built; in me, as person in their community, and in their peers, who they are working with in a different context. They are most trusting that others will listen to the interests and ideas they have to express.

What issues are the participants voicing through this artistic expression in their participation in Art Place?

Many of our explorations have focused on communication and understanding in a youth’s interpersonal relationships. The participants have been passionate about expressing their point of view in situations of conflict with teachers, siblings, or romantic partners. They have also been eager to role play alternate points of view and experience what it might be like to walk in someone else’s shoes. From the foundation of these day-to-day experiences, we’ve also explored more abstract themes like conflict, justice, peace and community. The youth brought unique ideas to life, negotiated their own perspectives with the differing perspectives from their peers and created strong messages as a group.

What does a typical session look like and how did you work together to transition from building specific skills, exploring themes and storytelling in a way that is moving towards a collective creation?

The program sits within a youth drop-in-program at Somerset West Community Health Centre. Some youth arrive at the beginning while others come later after other programs or after finishing homework. Each session begins with a warm up that allows us to energize our voices, bodies and minds and create a sense of ensemble. Then, I introduce exercises that allow the participants to explore either their writing or performance skills, often allowing one to contribute to the other so they can experience their own creation process. The exercises engage the youth in a scenario based around a theme. The content of these themes is based on previous week’s ideas or discussions. In this way, the content of the classes has developed as I get to know the participants. The youth get to see how their interests and ideas shape the class and can take ownership of the program.

For more information on Karen Balcome’s Art Place Residency.

Thanks for sharing / Merci d’avoir partagé!

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