I am not an artist, but this is for a good cause. I really enjoyed it. I hope whoever sees it enjoys it, too. Hopefully this inspires you to do something. Namaste, Sonia
On Saturday 8/11 I had the honor of joining the Art of Yoga Project for a benefit class with the renowned and beloved yoga teacher Desiree Rumbaugh. Before the class got underway we presented part I of Anchal and AYP’s collaborative summer workshop series – two handmade fabric collages comprised of individual panels made by the girls expressing places of power and refuge. With the help of a very skilled volunteer (thank you, Marj!) we made them into wall-hangings (pictured above) which were auctioned to benefit a new Anchal artisan. We raised $300 towards that end and hope to raise another $400 with the collages currently underway with ten girls incarcerated in a facility in San Mateo. Our goal is to raise $700 so the fifteen girls involved in this workshop series can support a young woman to become an Anchal artisan for one year. The emphasis on serving others has been an important thread in the Anchal/AYP curriculum and one the girls have been deeply inspired by. This cross-cultural connection and sisterhood is expressed in a letter from Jaimie (one of the girls at James Ranch) to the Anchal artisans:
With more than double the number of girls as well as time, last week’s first workshop in San Mateo was off to a strong start! We talked about the artisans in India, chai, the quilting tradition here in the U.S. and the ways this work will help a young woman in need. Tomorrow will be our second session where we’ll embark on the finishing touches on the collages below (stitching, beadwork, more applique) and start on a second collage. As we went around the closing circle last week girls that were shut down said they were feeling good. Others remarked on how neat it was to work with fabric in a new way. I was moved by how each of them navigated the project so uniquely, one girl taking to ribbon, another exploring the three-dimensionality of the fabric and another working meticulously with beads. I was reminded of how we each have a creative voice that is unrepeatable and totally our own.
More to come!
This Saturday night 8/11 we will celebrate the completion of part I of our workshop series with the Art of Yoga Project – a nonprofit based in the San Francisco bay area teaching yoga to girls incarcerated in the California juvenile justice system. The evening will be held at Breathe Yoga Studio from 7-8:30 pm in Los Gatos, California and includes an exhibition of the narrative textiles we worked on with the girls at James Ranch as well as a benefit yoga class taught by the renowned and beloved Anusara yoga teacher, Desiree Rumbaugh. The textiles will be auctioned and the proceeds will go towards sponsoring a young woman to become an Anchal artisan. If you’re in the area we would LOVE to see you and share the success of this poignant partnership between young at-risk American girls in California (many of whom have been physically and sexually abused) and Indian women in Kolkata and Ajmer who face sexual exploitation on a daily basis. Below are some of the individual panels, all hand-made from recycled materials. The images are based on places the girls experience as places of refuge and empowerment. We hope to see you on Saturday!
The Anchal-Art of Yoga Project summer workshop series is in full swing! Today is my fifth session working with 5 girls incarcerated at a low-security facility south of San Francisco. As part of the Art of Yoga Project summer art curriculum we’re teaching narrative textile collaging with a focus on favorite places. At the start of the series I asked the girls to first write about a place that stood out to them as a place of refuge. We then used that exercise as a springboard for the weeks to come and we’re currently employing fabric gathered from thrift stores and during our trips to India (and all recycled, of course), buttons and beads to bring the images to life. S is depicting a lake she used to swim in, close to her family’s cabin. See the photo below.
M recalls facing the waves at the beach and feeling the sand in her hands and wind in her hair (middle photo). D loves thinking about a park she used to visit with her friends (last photo) and L’s favorite place is a bench outside her foster mother’s home. The collages will be made into one collective textile which will be auctioned at an Art of Yoga fundraiser next month. Money raised through the sale of this piece will go towards a scholarship for a future artisan under the age of 18 who is looking for a way out of the sex trade. The girls are all between the ages of 14 to 18, so the idea of helping a girl roughly their age on the other side of the world resonated deeply. Once this series wraps up next week we’ll run another series at another facility in August, so stay tuned for more Anchal-Art of Yoga updates!
In less than a month we’ll launch our first 6-week narrative textiles workshop with The Art of Yoga Project. The Art of Yoga Project works with girls in the California juvenile justice system and strives to instill accountability to self, others and community through yoga and art. AYP works with girls from San Francisco to Morgan Hill and offers fall, spring and summer curricula in creative arts and yoga. The curriculum has been carefully crafted to offer a multi-dimensional approach to the girls that builds the self-awareness, empathy, self-esteem and self-respect necessary to make healthy lifestyle choices. Anchal is honored to be running the art curriculum at the San Mateo and Morgan Hill locations this summer.
Image from the Camp Kemp spring 2008 photo project, taught by artist/photographer Wendy Hopfenberg
Since an important piece of the workshop will be exposing the AYP girls to the Anchal girls and women and the ways their lives are similar we’ll start by introducing the work we do at Anchal and the artisans we serve. We’ll follow the introduction with a warm-up writing exercise where we’ll ask the girls to write about a favorite place and the wonderful, tactile senses they associate with that place. We’ll then transition first to paper mock-ups (like we do in our Textile as Narrative curriculum for the artisans) and by session three move onto fabric collages. At both locations the girls will make one they can hold on to and one to add to the collective textile we’ll assemble and auction off in August to benefit the Anchal artisans. We’ll be sure to keep you posted once the workshops are underway and the collages are in the works!
Got extra fabric lying around? Are you a wiz on the sewing machine? If you’ve got material or skills you’d like to donate towards this exchange shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to widen the community of collaborators even more, so do let us know!
The Art of Yoga Project– a nonprofit based in San Francisco – strives to lead teen girls in the California juvenile justice system toward accountability to self, others and community by providing practical tools to effect behavioral change. Founded by nurse practitioner and yoga instructor Mary Lynn Fitton, The Art Yoga Project began in 2002 as a pilot program and became an independent 501c(3) nonprofit organization in 2005, with programs in California and Oregon. In Fitton’s clinical practice, she treated many adolescent girls with anxiety, depression, eating disorders and unhealthy habits such as drug abuse, self mutilation and unsafe sex. Determined to find solutions, Fitton created The Art of Yoga Project to help at-risk girls prepare for a positive future. The focus of the Project is on early intervention with girls most in need – those in the juvenile justice system.
We stumbled upon The Art of Yoga Project through our partner Anoothi and boy are we glad we did. After a preliminary meeting a couple of weeks ago we’re slated to collaborate with AYP on (2) 3-week design workshops in May 2012 for girls serving in the California juvenile justice system and participating in AYP programming. While the design curriculum is still a work in progress, some of the old standbys will remain: re-purposing recycled fabric, telling stories through the textile medium and working in community. Stay tuned for more details!