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A Day at ARTE: Stoking the Flames of Creative Resistance

On Saturday January 27th, a group of 16 educators, artists, students, and community members participated in our collaborative and participatory Professional Development Workshop. This workshop is an ongoing series by Art and Resistance Through Education (ARTE) aimed at training folks on how to use arts education as a tool for creative resistance. We talked about human rights, the arts, tapping into resources, and the steps to guide young people in using art as a tool for activism.

To start the day, we rooted ourselves in our own communities. We used visual art to draw our interpretations of what our communities looked like. As we went around, participants shared a few words about their communities. Supportive, ever expanding, and loving were some of the ideas articulated by folks. In a emotional moment, one educator said her community was her students.

ARTE uses the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as a framework for its work. On Saturday, we did the same as we got into small groups to begin the creative process. In a series of tangible building blocks, we were guided through activities and taught steps to execute them. All things that could easily be translated to workshops in or outside the classroom.

Here is a look at some of the steps we took that eventually led to the unveiling of our very own human rights gallery! First, everyone attempted to represent a chosen UDHR article in just one symbol. This got our creative juices flowing as we began to think of human rights in ways we hadn’t before. Then, we looked to human rights inspired murals from around the world and had thoughtful discussions around the shared themes and messages. Finally, we were ready to get crafty with our hands and create our own human rights sculptures! With a multitude of craft supplies and mixed media at our disposal, the options were endless. Some groups built intricate sculptures representing corrupt food systems and others, beautiful collages tackling unjust incarceration.

The workshop space quickly transformed into into a human rights gallery as groups finished their artwork and put them on display.

The ARTE Professional Development Workshop ended in a powerful example of creative resistance. After learning about organizing in our communities, getting creative about resources, and learning how to use art as a tool for human rights activism, we started creating our community puzzle.

Each participant worked on their own puzzle piece, using mixed media art tools to best portray themselves in their art. When we connected the puzzle pieces together, we had a stunning artwork that demonstrated the beauty in each individual while also showing the power of community that comes from creative collaboration.

Want to be part of the next Professional Development series? Sign-up here and/or e-mail us. In the meantime, stay connected with ARTE and upcoming events on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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