Posts Tagged ‘confidence’

How Does an ArtCorps Workshop Catalyze Social Change?

ArtCorps Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

In this interview, ArtCorps Artist Naphtali Fields explains how sowing confidence, purpose and creative leadership builds stronger communities.

Youth workshop, ArtCorps Artist Naphtali FieldsOver the past year, you have facilitated over 100 ArtCorps workshops. What have the youth groups and Servicio Jesuita staff taken away from the workshops?

The youth have learned that their stories matter and how to use storytelling and theater to promote discussion and behavior change. They have also experienced the power of what they can accomplish by working together. Staff have learned to value creativity, to give themselves more time and space in their personal life to reflect artistically, and that there is always a more dynamic and engaging way to present information.

How are the youth and staff applying their new skills and knowledge?

Youth are coming up with their own initiatives for continuing to creatively work to improve their communities. Other public and nonprofit organizations have approached the youth we trained to create original plays. The staff are thinking in new ways about how to incorporate creativity into their meetings and workshops, and they are trying to resolve conflicts in the office and the communities where they work by using arts-based tools.

Servicio Jesuita takes a “holistic” approach to human development. Can you explain how this plays out in your work?

I think the best way to think about community development is to understand how the issues are interconnected. The kid in a theater group is the same kid who gets sick when he has to put chemical fertilizers on his corn, the same kid who’s seen his dad beat up his mom and the same kid who only studied up to third grade because he had to start working full-time. So we are discussing, reflecting and working on multifaceted issues that are part of the participants’ daily reality. We’re holding up a mirror of what’s happening now along with an alternative vision of what we can accomplish together.

Mask-masking identity workshop with young women, ArtCorps Artist Naphtali FieldsWhich of your accomplishments as an ArtCorps Artist are you most proud of? Why?

I’m proudest not of the plays that we’ve performed, but of the change I see in the youth after they join the group. This takes place in the moments when they realize that they have accomplished something that they never imagined they could (like memorizing a part, singing a rap or performing for an audience)–and it happens not only in performances but in our weekly rehearsals and workshops.

How has your understanding of Art for Social Action evolved over the past two years?

I’ve realized that social action doesn’t happen until there is individual transformation–and that is a slow process. The beauty of Art for Social Action is that when one or two people discover their confidence and purpose and begin to blossom creatively, their actions inspire others to follow their example. This is how change spreads!

In 2012, the youth groups trained by ArtCorps Artist Naphtali Fields performed nine plays reaching over 700 people with messages about sustainable agriculture, women’s rights and violence prevention. This project is being carried out in collaboration with Servicio Jesuita para el Desarrollo and Oxfam America.


Middle Schoolers Begin to See Themselves as Changemakers

Allison Havens Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

As ArtCorps Artist Allison Havens entered her first workshop with Honduran middle schoolers, she wasn’t quite sure what to expect from such a young age group.

I wondered, “Would the activities be too hard, boring, too long for middle school students?” But after the first icebreaker flopped (lining up in order of birth dates), we persevered to end up having a great workshop together!

We discussed what art is, who is an artist and who can be one, and determined that we are each artists in our own unique ways. We proceeded with group map drawings of their community–listing the things they liked about their communities (such as the soccer fields, the school, church, the friendly people) and what they’d like to change or improve in their community (such as the violence and alcohol abuse). We took turns sharing, listening and applauding.

The children began learning how to work in groups and how to be inclusive of everyone’s participation. And they began developing the confidence to create and share with one another. These are some of the foundational lessons as the students begin to view themselves as active members of their communities and participants of change in Tripoli, Atlantida!

Lee en Español


Los estudiantes de enseñanza media empiezan a verse como agentes de cambio

Allison Havens Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

La Artista ArtCorps Allison Havens no sabía bien qué esperar de niños de tan corta edad al empezar el primer taller con alumnos hondureños de enseñanza media.

Me preguntaba: “¿Serán demasiado difíciles, aburridas o largas estas actividades para niños de esta edad?”. Pero tras la primera actividad rompehielos (formar una fila por orden de edad), perseveramos y acabamos teniendo un taller maravilloso.

Debatimos sobre qué es el arte, qué es un artista y quién puede serlo, y llegamos a la conclusión de que todos somos artistas a nuestra manera. Luego dibujamos mapas de la comunidad en grupo, enumerando las cosas que les gustaban de su comunidad (como los campos de fútbol, la iglesia, la gente abierta) y lo que les gustaría cambiar o mejorar (como la violencia o la adicción al alcohol). En turnos, compartimos nuestras ideas, escuchamos y aplaudimos.

Los niños empezaron a aprender a trabajar en grupo y a incluir la participación de todos. Y comenzaron a desarrollar confianza para crear y compartir los unos con los otros. Éstas son algunas lecciones básicas necesarias mientras los alumnos empiezan a verse a sí mismos como miembros activos de sus comunidades y participantes en el cambio en Trípoli, Atlántida.

Read in English


Vamos a dibujar juntos nuestros sueños

Naphtali Fields Saturday, May 28th, 2011

La Artista ArtCorps Naphtali Fields y las agricultoras con las que trabaja encuentran el valor y la seguridad necesarios para trabajar juntas de forma novedosa.

En una reunión reciente con las mujeres del grupo de teatro, repartí hojas de papel y ceras de colores y les pedí que dibujaran un mapa del viaje a lo largo de este año, el futuro que deseaban para nuestro grupo en los próximos meses. Nadie optó por las ceras, la mayoría empezó a trabajar con lápices de colores, dibujando con una capacidad de concentración que espero que se contagie a los ejercicios teatrales algún día. Caminé entre el grupo, haciendo cumplidos a los colores elegidos, a su trabajo e intentando evitar (como siempre) que las gallinas me picotearan los pies. Al rato, me di cuenta de que dos mujeres del grupo no estaban dibujando. Sus hojas descansaban en el regazo y ellas miraban al suelo. Mamita, sentada más cerca de mí, es la abuela de la mayoría de las mujeres del grupo. Es una mujer alta, con porte digno, anciana y siempre amable conmigo.
ArtCorps Artist Naphtali Fields leads women in drawing activity about the future of their community, AGROSAL, El Salvador

“Mamita”, le dije, “¿por qué no estás dibujando? ¿Quieres que te traiga colores diferentes?” Lupe, su nieta, levantó la mirada de su dibujo un momento y dijo:

“Mamita no sabe escribir”. Mamita asintió vigorosamente con la cabeza.

“Pero dibujar no es lo mismo que escribir”, le dije. “Sólo tienes que unir los colores”. Entonces Mamita me hizo una aclaración. Nunca había agarrado una cera, un lápiz o un bolígrafo. No sabía cómo hacerlo correctamente. Entonces, acerqué uno de las ceras gigantes que se me había antojado comprar y coloqué sus dedos alrededor de la misma. “Ahora todo lo que tienes que hacer es decidir qué colores quieres usar”, le dije. Al principio, apenas tocaba el papel con la cera, con vergüenza y afectación. Después, tras comprobar que nadie la observaba o se reía, lo intentó de nuevo, dibujando un círculo rojo muy bonito. La dejé mientras dibujaba, triunfante, círculos y fui a animar a Ildit, la otra mujer en silencio que nunca antes había sostenido un lápiz.

Unos veinte minutos después, enseñamos nuestros dibujos y compartimos su significado. Margarita había dibujado un avión que ella misma pilotaba, mostrando que ella quería estar a los mandos de su propia vida y tomas sus propias decisiones. Casi todas habían dibujado campos de maíz y frijoles, ya que deseaban una buena cosecha. Algunas nos dibujaron a todas juntas, tomadas de las manos y trabajando para mejorar la comunidad.

Pero estaba más orgullosa de Mamita. Aunque su papel estaba cubierto de círculos negros, rojos y amarillos, nos lo mostró a todas. “¿Habéis visto lo que he hecho?”, preguntó. Aunque los demás dibujos eran mejores técnicamente, ella plasmó el espíritu de este año mejor que nadie. Aparentemente, el arte puede ser una herramienta inútil en comunidades como San Francisco. Cada mujer tiene más trabajo del que puede manejar, niños con parásitos, poca comida y ahora una importante escasez de frijoles porque las lluvias del año pasado fueron torrenciales. ¿No sería yo más útil si abogara por un programa de alimentos o de salud? Creo que la respuesta es más complicada de lo que quiero decir. Prefiero decir que no, que las limosnas y los subsidios no ayudan a largo plazo. La belleza del arte, de la creatividad, es lo que nos enseña a pensar con espíritu crítico sobre nuestras vidas y nos proporciona herramientas para organizar y cambiar lo que nos hace sufrir. Creo que es así, pero estoy viendo que es una creencia bella a la vez que difícil de vivir.

El arte y el cambio social necesitan tiempo. Vine a enseñar teatro, y luego me di cuenta de que para muchas de estas mujeres va a hacer falta todo un año de trabajo para que ganen la confianza y el valor necesarios para ponerse delante de diez personas y decir unas líneas. Organizar es difícil. Si baja agua por la tubería principal, como ocurre cada 8 días más o menos, se cancelan las reuniones. Los niños se enferman. Hay que hacer las tareas de la casa, hay que hacer tortillas tres veces al día. Si llueve, todos se quedan en casa. Hay un millón de cosas que parecen más urgentes que reunirnos para jugar y hablar sobre el pensamiento creativo. Y aún así, nos reunimos. El número de participantes ha disminuido tras el primer estallido de interés, pero las que aún quedan están ganando confianza y camaradería. Puede que no montemos ninguna producción larga pronto, y también es posible que no solucionemos los problemas de malnutrición, parásitos y escasez económica, pero poco a poco comenzamos a dibujar juntas nuestros sueños. Y ahora, todas saben sujetar una cera.

Lee más sobre la colaboración de ArtCorps con AGROSAL y Oxfam America en El Salvador.

Read in English


Drawing Our Dreams Together

Naphtali Fields Monday, May 9th, 2011

ArtCorps Artist Naphtali Fields and the women farmers she works with find the courage and confidence to begin working together in new ways.

In a recent meeting with my theater group of women I pulled out some sheets of paper and crayons and asked them to draw a map of the year’s journey, the future they imagined for our group over the next few months. No one opted for the crayons, but most got busy with colored pencils, drawing with a concentration I hope will someday transfer to theater exercises. I walked around the group, complementing their color choices, admiring their work, and trying (as always) to keep random chickens for pecking at my toes. After a while I noticed two women in the group weren’t drawing. Their paper lay in their laps, and they were looking at the ground. The closest, Mamita, is the grandmother of most of the women in the group. She is tall and dignified, ancient and always kind to me.

“Mamita,” I asked, “Why aren’t you drawing?  Do you want me to get you some different colors?” Lupe, her granddaughter, looked up briefly from her picture to say,

“Mamita can’t write.” Mamita nodded her head vigorously in assent.

ArtCorps Artist Naphtali Fields leads women in drawing activity about the future of their community, AGROSAL, El Salvador“But drawing is different than writing,” I said.  “You just have to put the colors together.” Then Mamita clarified for me.  She had never held a crayon, a pencil, or a pen.  She didn’t know how to put it in her hand.  I brought over one of the jumbo crayons I had bought on a whim and fashioned her fingers around it.  “Now all you do is decide how you want the colors to go together” I told her.  At first, she barely nicked the paper with the crayon, self-conscious and grimacing.  Then, after glancing around to see that no one was watching or laughing, she tried again, managing a very nice red circle. I left her drawing circles triumphantly and went to encourage Ildit, the other quiet woman who had never held a crayon before.

After about twenty minutes, we showed our pictures and shared what they meant. Margarita had drawn a plane with herself as the pilot, saying she wanted to be in charge of her own life and make her own decisions. Almost everyone had drawn fields of ripe corn and beans, hoping for a good harvest. Some drew us together, holding hands and working to better the community.

But I was proudest of Mamita. Though her paper was covered with black, red and yellow circles, she showed it off to all of us. “Did you see what I did?” she asked us. Though the other drawings were technically better, she encapsulated the spirit of this year more than anyone. At face value, art seems a poor tool to bring to communities like San Francisco. Every woman is burdened with more work than she can handle, kids with parasites, little food, and now, a real shortage of beans because the rains last year were too strong. Wouldn’t I be more useful if I was advocating a food or health program? The answer, I think, is more complicated than what I want to say. I want to say that no, handouts and benefits are not helpful in the long term and the beauty of art, of creativity, is that it teaches us to think critically about our lives and gives us the tools to organize and change that which causes our suffering. I believe that’s true, but I’m learning that it’s a lovely thing to believe and a difficult belief to live.

Art and social change take time. I came here to teach theater, then realized that for many of these women, it will take a year of work to give them the confidence and courage to stand in front of ten people and say a few lines. Organizing is hard. If the water comes down the main pipe, as it does every eight days or so, all meetings are cancelled. Babies get sick. Housework has to be done, tortillas have to be made three times a day. If it rains everyone stays home. There are a million things that seem more urgent than getting together to play games and talk about creative thinking. Yet, we still meet. Our numbers have dwindled after the first burst of interest, but those who remain are growing in confidence and camaraderie. We might not be mounting any full-length productions soon, we might not solve the problems of malnutrition, parasites and economic scarcity, but we’re slowly beginning to draw our dreams together. And this time, everyone can hold a crayon.

Read more about ArtCorps’ partnership with AGROSAL and Oxfam America in El Salvador.

Lee en Español