Community Art-making Extends Beyond Finished Pieces

‘When people come together to make art, they form a common bond’

Creating Space LEAD
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Making sock puppets kindles conservation, lessens loneliness and links citizens to community.

Earlier this week, this act of creation and connection unfolded in a community art hive in Peterborough. The project involved people of all ages gathering to make the sock puppets at the not-for-profit Creating Space Community Arts Studio.

53588515_2198527553731737_8273870551437541376_nWhile the art-making endeavors participants embark upon vary from one session to another, what is consistent and apparent are the benefits of art-making. They extend beyond the actual pieces, ultimately touching people in deeper ways.

“When people come together to make art, they form a common bond and begin to see how we are all similar,” Creating Space’s Myria Rei Solas, registered psychotherapist, and certified art and play therapist, tells Electric City Magazine.

“The lines and barriers that separate us disappear and people find new ways of seeing themselves and each other. When we connect with our creative-selves we feel more open and alive and we can share with those around us a sense of togetherness and warmth.”

Creating Space started about three years ago by providing drop-ins in the Seeds of Change space at George Street United Church. Since then, volunteers and board members have worked diligently to promote community art-making.

53560148_2198527623731730_5640635675742044160_nToday, Creating Space currently offers drop-ins at Emmanuel United Church on Rubidge Street three days a week.

The drop-ins are open to anyone in the community interested in making art and hanging out in an inclusive and safe space.

Myria has seen how the process of art-making exemplifies community.

She highlights a pop-up table held at the ReFrame Film Festival in January. “We provided large moth prints on which people were invited to draw or write on what brought them to the festival and what continues to bring them back. It was an opportunity for people to express themselves creatively and share how they feel about the festival. All the moths were then placed on the wall to create a beautiful collective piece about an event that makes a difference in our community.”

“A sense of togetherness is promoted, which helps people feel less alone and more supported. It may be a chance to meet people of various ages, abilities, ethnicities, and different lifestyles with the bridge of art-making.”

The puppet-making initiative is another example. It provided an opportunity for participants to meet new people, share in the creative process, work together in sharing space, assist each other when necessary and learn new things within a community setting, Myria says.

“In a community art-making setting, people get to spend time together who might otherwise never meet. They can learn new things about themselves and share their knowledge with others.

“A sense of togetherness is promoted, which helps people feel less alone and more supported. It may be a chance to meet people of various ages, abilities, ethnicities, and different lifestyles with the bridge of art-making.”

There are conditions that need to be in place for community-building, connection and healing to occur. It needs to be a safe place where participants feel they can be themselves and not be judged. They need to feel comfortable and “able to explore and express their inner-selves. They need people in the space who are welcoming and warm not intrusive or pushy.”

Artistically, they also need a variety of materials in order to find the ones that are a fit for them.

Art-making has the potential to have an even broader impact on community if there were further opportunities for people to participate, Myria says.

puppets crop“I believe that if more of this were happening in Peterborough there would be fewer people who feel alone. There would be more support on a larger community basis because there would be more ties amongst the people who live here,” she says.

“There would be more awareness about what is really happening for people. There would be more accepting of differences between people and more highlighting of what makes us all human.”

To check out the Creating Space Community Arts Studio, pop by one of the drop-ins. Drop-ins run on Mondays from 3:30-7:30 p.m., Tuesdays from 1:30-6 p.m. and on Wednesdays from 1:30-6 pm. Emmanuel United Church is at 441 Rubidge St. There is no fee to drop in but donations are welcome.

Creating Space also offers workshops. The group has been running a series of workshops funded by the United Way since January, which run until mid-April.

Images courtesy of the Creating Space Facebook page.

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