RE-create Outreach Art Studio is a program of Shalem; a drop-in art studio for at-risk and homeless youth in Hamilton’s downtown core. RE-create offers all kinds of art projects to the youth who come to studio time; they can participate in guided art projects or work independently. Recently we’ve started a new initiative, called Encouragement Circle.
We noticed that youth would work for months on complex, beautiful art pieces, but that often when they were finished, they would take these pieces home with little fanfare. We wanted to give the youth a chance to share these works with their peers, and receive feedback on their work.
Encouragement Circle offers that feedback from a group of peers, RE-create volunteers and staff. Youth are invited to bring a finished piece to the circle, and then each participant in the circle gives positive feedback on the piece and suggestions for directions for future pieces, which might build on the piece featured. Encouragement Circle has been a great success so far, building self-esteem and motivating youth to start new pieces.
We’ve also been encouraging our youth artists to lead art workshops for their peers, sharing their knowledge about their preferred art mediums. We had two of these workshops in the past few months; one on digital drawing, and one on art journaling.
Digital drawing is an art form that utilizes a digital drawing tablet that is connected to a computer. One of our youth artists is particularly talented at this medium, and has been using it for years to produce beautifully shaded and textured digital drawings. He led a great workshop that showed us how to use this technology, and inspired other youth to try it out.
Art journaling is an activity that has been exploding in popularity in the studio recently. It involves using visual media (pens, markers, paint, collage) within a sketchbook to chronicle one’s journey creatively. This movement of art journaling at RE-create was inspired by one of our volunteers, who was using it to process her own life. She then taught a few of our youth how to use this medium, and they quickly adopted it as a way to process what was going on in their own lives.
Earlier this spring this volunteer and one of our youth led a wonderful workshop on this medium, showing off their journals and encouraging others to share their journals with the group. Since that time even more youth have started art journaling, and we can barely keep up with the demand for journals!
In March, two of our youth artists shared the studio space that we use at 126 James North to put on an exhibition of their work. They called this shared solo show “Visceral Visions,” which referenced the emotional content of their work. The exhibition was a great success, and many visitors to March Art Crawl came in and saw the work. We’re excited to also be hosting an exhibition in the space during July Art Crawl, hopefully featuring some of the wonderful art journaling the youth have produced. Keep an eye out for it if you are at July Art Crawl!
For more information on RE-create, view this video below. How to support RE-create from Shalem Mental Health Network on Vimeo. It was created to promote RE-create and share ways of partnering with us!
Meghan Schuurman is the Studio Coordinator for RE-create Outreach Art Studio.