It is only fitting that I share my take-away from a wearable art silk scarf-designing workshop I recently facilitated at the East Meadow Public Library through my social and cultural enrichment program, My Time Has Come . The sources of inspiration for this workshop were many, with Valentine’s day and Passover on most minds, and not to speak of themes that some participants had already given thought to before they arrived!
I want to start by ‘commiserating’ with fellow artists around the world who prepare for, and facilitate workshops with the mindset that they have a ‘task’ that they must accomplish… otherwise known as a Job. This was not a job for me. It was yet another “this is why I do what I do” opportunity for me. Thanks, to the participants. For what is of utmost importance and most gratifying to me, as a facilitating artist, is the enthusiasm and willingness of participants of all age groups to try new things, the camaraderie shared by ‘strangers’ in some cases, and last but not least, the desire for excellence in creativity that results in exceptionally crafted pieces they can take home with them. This was present in great measure!
I must say, I really expected nothing less from participants who did not use the pouring rain as an excuse to stay away. Suffice it say that it was that same spirit of determination that filled the room. Determination to try something new, to make the most of it and, as far as I am concerned, succeed at it. You, the reader of this post, can register your opinion on the accompanying visuals.
As my heartfelt gratitude goes out to this outstanding group, I must share that for the first time as a workshop facilitator, I was asked on more than one occasion to stop for a moment to hydrate as a result of what must have struck someone as me “on overdrive”, as I passionately executed my task. I thought that was so sweet and nurturing! (I had no idea I was perspiring at all…as the pictures would reveal later!) I also want to thank those who privately shared with me their observations about what they observed as my commitment to what I do. I intend to use those kind sentiments to further motivate myself as I strive for excellence in all I do. Those, who could, stayed behind to help with the inevitable post-workshop clean-up and pack up. How wonderful that was! Thank You, to Charlie who helped us settle in, Jude Schanzer, the Director of Public Relations and Programming, and last but not least, my husband, James Lacy, for his role as the photographer and another set of helping hands.
What a pleasure it was to be in the company of willing adult learners (plus one child) who did not hesitate for one moment to unleash the textile artist in them as they recently designed their own unique holiday silk scarves! The sole elementary school student participant was just as comfortable. She confirmed my suspicion when she loudly declared something to the effect of, ” I am enjoying myself”.
With the exception of two participants with some art background, these ladies came in ready for the challenge-not knowing what to expect. It is clear to me from the nature of my interaction with each artist, that their anxieties were quickly laid to rest when they began to appreciate the fact that what they initially regarded as “mistakes” during a creative process were now valuable opportunities to expand their reach and embrace their own creative spirit in a manner that they can truly be proud of. This was true for those who thought they had “messed up” their work! After a few demonstrations, they could see for themselves how creativity and the concept of messing up just do not mesh!
If you are by now thinking that I quite enjoyed facilitating this Workshop, you are right. It was yet another pleasant reminder of why I have chosen to utilize my passion for the arts to creatively communicate and interact with others!
Thank You, goes to Jude Schanzer, the Director of Public Relations and Programming, of the East Meadow Public Library for granting me an opportunity to share my creative talent with the library’s patrons. I thank the workshop participants whose enthusiasm reinforced the “why I do, what I do factor” of my artistic journey and my other half, James Lacy – a fine example of one who believes in unconditional love and support!
Madona Cole-Lacy, M.A.Ed., Program Director/Facilitator
Madona Cole-Lacy is a registered Nassau and Eastern Suffolk BOCES Teaching Artist and can be reached at email@example.com
My Time Has Come Program Provides art-related workshops for Schools * Libraries * Faith and Community-Based Organizations.
Promotes and Supports Equality * Inclusion * Diversity.
Fosters a sense of belonging, accomplishment and pride gained from the creation of well executed culturally-inspired works of art.
Develops skills and techniques in the execution of handcrafted contemporary and multicultural textile designs and visual arts.
My quest to contribute to the making of the world a smaller place took me to Bellport High School last week. It was a pleasure to meet and interact with a mix of multi-ethnic students with the express purpose of assisting them in identifying and celebrating their respective cultural heritage and family traditions in preparation for the designing and creation of their own unique Coat of Many CulturesTM (This project is funded by a grant from South Country Education Foundation to the school)
There were students who spoke with a great sense of confidence, others who, even though they did not say it, would have preferred to introduce themselves in terms of a subculture they had created or acquired that they were obviously comfortable with. Others appeared to be disconnected from their cultural background because “they were born here” and had not been exposed to “anything” “cultural. Whatever the case may be, I stay committed to my role in the lives of these students as we work diligently toward designing a coat that will not only speak to their identity for years to come, but will take them on a journey of self-empowerment and appreciation for their cultural heritage.
(Madona Cole-Lacy with Art Students at Bellport High School – Easing Into the Creative Process Through Engagement)
As I anticipate an unpredictable yet successful execution of these series of workshops which I facilitate in Long Island and beyond, I want to highlight a few points that I believe society can bear in mind as they nurture and empower their children particularly in times like these when teachers are reporting bully related incidents that are targeted at children who may not necessarily represent the race and cultural background of those who torment them.
1. If we instill a strong sense of belonging in our children, there will be no need to worry about them being victimized by others. There are no “others” in an all-inclusive world where people work together for the common good of humanity.
2. It is important to maintain family traditions that reinforce cultural values.
3. Parents should do an ancestry search, and share information about family heritage with their children.
4. We should research and/or review the history of our cultural/ethnic/racial/religious group, and hold family discussions regarding this background and how it currently impacts each family member.
5. Promote social studies and history education in schools that is fully inclusive of all ethnic, racial, religious and cultural groups. This should emphasize their values and contributions to humanity.
We can’t know where we’re going until we know who we are and where we as people have been or been through.
Learn more about my art-related personal development and social/cultural enrichment workshops tailored to schools and community organizations here.