Choice-Based Art Education is student centered and based around teaching through the use of the Studio Habits of Mind.
The Studio Habits of Mind are ways in which we process our experiences, here is a great project example. They are very similar to the Scientific Method, or the Mathematical Practices.
Teachers in the Mid-Atlantic area came together the first weekend in August for a retreat, to reignite the flame before school begins. When Pam Ehrenreich asked if I knew of a place to host a retreat for teachers in our area I was THRILLED to offer my studio space.
When everyone arrived we started the weekend with appetizers and a TASK party! It was a nice way to get into the weekend… start to make art and open ourselves up new ideas.
Silk Screening TAB SHIRTS
Tracy Skeels shared her method of silk screening. We created stencils from paper and worked together to print our designs.
We shared different projects and resources with each other, creating examples for our students. Julie Dimino shared all of her amazing resources with us!
There were presentations on Cold Finishes on Clay, Gelli Printing, Weaving, and Cyanotypes. Each presentation was so insightful and inspiring.
Cold Finishes for Fired Clay
Jen Byrne shared a few awesome tips for cold finishing clay! Mixing metallic acrylic paint with water in buckets for a quick dip in the shimmer bath!
Tracy Skeels presented on gelli printing, and we were able to explore and create to our hearts content.
Kate Heuston presented on cyanotype, and her experimentation with the process as an artist. We tried new techniques like drawing on acetate, and using transparencies to create different layers of prints.
April Pink presented weaving, and we learned quick and easy ways for our students to be able to weave on cardboard looms.
We also shared the many resource for how we structure our classrooms. The reflection and discussion time were super valuable.
Aside from all the learning, it was great to meet like minded individuals and also have time to create art of our own.
Painting Flow and Glow Party
On Saturday evening we had an intuitive painting party. Each teacher created their own work of art, and then we discussed how we could use this in our classrooms.
The weekend was so amazing. 10 art educators coming together to share and create!
If you missed out on this years, keep an eye out for next! It will be the first weekend in August 2023.
On November 4th we arrived in Johannesburg South Africa. The day we had been planning and fundraising for was finally here! The airport was big and gray, as thunderstorm rolled in. We met with our fellow Artizens, the Tanzanian Magomamoto Theater Group, along with a new friend Bonface from Kenya.
The drive from the airport to the hotel was a beautiful sign of the power of the arts to bring people together. We shared songs and drums, and sang together in our different languages.
When we arrived at the hotel, we were greeted by two local South African women who just so happened to be at the hotel for breakfast, which neither had ever done before. The universe brought us angels to help us accomplish our tasks! The one woman Hanna, my newest friend, assisted us in so many things…. from finding a local woman to purchase fabric from, to taking us to the store two days in a row to gather materials for our workshops. She even took me to the airport on my last day.
Artizen Conference Day 1 – Creation
Our first day of the Artizen – Art for Social Transformation conference was amazing. Jennifer Foylan presented the keynote speech about her journey through the life cycle of the butterfly. While she shared her story, I created a live intuitive painting for her, in front of the group. This was a powerful time to show how art can express our experiences and emotions.
I was apart of the group that presented on the birth of the caterpillar and the transitional stage in the cocoon. Linda M and Raisa J were my team mates, and we each shared pieces of our indigenous knowledge with those who attended.
Day one was the birth of the caterpillar, where Linda shared the creation story and the medicine wheel knowledge and Raisa presented the tradition of ribbon skirts and how each is connected through creator. I assisted the students that attended in creating a mandala based off of a workshop Linda does through her art therapy presentations.
The mandalas were a collaborative group project that started with 4 questions:
Who am I?
Where did I come from?
Why am I here?
Where and I going?
Participants were asked to create a visual representation of their answers to these questions using the mandala template that was pre drawn. Each group member had a task of completing a section, while they worked together on the meaning. After the students created their mandalas, each group shared what it meant to them.
This was powerful because students in South Africa do not get the arts in school. This showed them how powerful of a tool art is to help share your stories and connect with one another.
Day 2 – Begin Ribbon Skirts
Day 2 of the Artizen 2021: Turtle Island to South Africa conference we traveled, with our new friend Hanna, to find fabric, ribbons and sewing machines for the ribbon making workshop we presented for a group of women from South Africa who are domestic abuse survivors.
Along the way we met a beautiful soul at Spirit of Stone and were gifted amazing stones and medicines. Stuart does amazing energy work in South Africa and I look forward to returning again soon to participate in experiences with him!
We were also so blessed to have found a local woman who had traditional fabric from Kenya, Mo_Fabrics_More. It was such a blessing to purchase fabric from her and support a local small business entrepreneur.
The workshop was wonderful. It was at the Turquoise Harmony Institute. Jennifer shared her story and journey through domestic violence and sexual abuse, and Raisa discussed how ribbon skirts are a form of traditional art that is healing. Even though we weren’t able to begin sewing the skirts, we had each woman pick a fabric they wanted to make their skirt from, and we measured and cut the fabric to prepare for the next day, when we worked with the women to add their ribbons and sew their skirts.
We selected fabric with the color purple intentionally, as is the color for domestic violence awareness. The women who were participating in the workshop are survivors of gender based violence, and sexual abuse. They are working with Disele May, who has created the Disele May Foundation to help women overcome these struggles.
Constitution Hill Gala
After the workshop we attended a gala… all I can say is… amazing powerful work was being done there… doors opened… and I am ready. The gala was held at Constitution Hill in the old women’s prison. There were speakers from the beginning of the apartheid, and those that worked to bring democracy to South Africa. The speakers were powerful, the performances were divine, the food was delicious and I was asked to share about my White Buffalo painting “Hope”, which was donated for silent auction. Our day even included another rainbow! Our work is blessed… as we remind each other through art that we are all connected.
Day 3 – Performance Art and Sewing
This day began with a beautiful tour of the only constitutional court in the country of South Africa. It was amazing seeing the structures of the holding cells for the jail used during the apartheid. Getting to spend time in such an historic place that was FILLED with art was super inspirational. It reinforced the need to tell our stories through art to heal past traumas.
After our tour we participated in the keynote speech, and addressed students from another school. Linda, Raisa and I shared our teachings and stories with the students. And they were blown away by our spirit names.
After the keynote, we continued to work with the women who have survived domestic violence, to create healing ribbon skirts. They LOVED it!!
After completing day 2 of 3 for ribbon skirt making, I participated in a performance with Shanna and 12 other amazing artists. It was such a powerful experience to dance free as an Indigenous person from Turtle Island on the land of South Africa.
Lastly there was an art tank competition, where Teaching Artist Institute awarded one local artist with a small stipend and free business coaching for a year. It was amazing to see all of the local talent. Arie Squires also was apart of the conference and she selected one young woman to personally mentor in branding and business!
Day 4 – The last day of the conference
Before heading to the conference, we visited the Tanzania Embassy with our new Tanzanian friends of the Magomamoto theater group. It was the first time Indigenous people visited with the Ambassador. We made history! We sat and talked with the ambassador about using art for social transformation, and we even got to sing the Tanzania anthem together!
After the embassy, we ended the conference at Amajika Performing Arts center. The ladies from Disele May Foundation were able to complete their skirts. It was so powerful to hear their stories and witness the beginning of beautiful transformations, from victims of gender based violence to superheroes reclaiming their power! Thank you Disele May for following your heart so others might thrive.
Shanna taught performance dance to the kids and women there. It was powerful hearing them sing and seeing them do their traditional dances!
While there I created a flower of life community mural to symbolize the connections we all have to one another. Art to remind us we are all connected.
The kids who attend the art center on Saturdays painted it in! Children in South Africa do not get art in school, so Tu Nokwe has different art lessons for them at the center on Saturdays. The children love it so much, they try to come other days as well! It was such a blessing blessing work with them and hear them say how soothing and fun it was to paint! So blessed to bring Creative Balance to South Africa!!
Thank you Kim Poole, Haki Shakur Ammi, and Firdoze Bulbulia for organizing such an amazing event. This was history in the making and I am so excited about the partnerships we’ve created and what change will come from them.
This experience was life changing for myself and so many others. I am humbled and honored to have been able to attend and participate. Thank you to everyone who donated and supported this trip. This is only the beginning.
The first ever Kids Yoga Love Festival was held at Amethyst Retreat Center in July 2021. Chelsea Parcels created a wonderful event for children of all ages!
Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artists once they grow up.
This was more than just a Yoga festival, it was full of experiences that allowed our inner child to play, dance, create, and explore!
The event offered Yoga inspired classes for all ages, Vendors, delicious food, ice cream, hiking, dancing, drumming, community art, beginner friendly. Kirtan, henna, forest meditation, friends, kittens for adoption, magic show, super hero martial arts class, Qigong, nature + SOooo Much More!
The day began with an opening ceremony with Chelsea Parcels & Emily Turin who performed of her very special song, “Send Out A Smile.”
Nicky Yesser lead us all in dance time.
I truly felt my inner child filled with joy as I danced along with the kids! You can feel her heart as she leads the kids to express themselves through dance!
There were many yoga classes held, Jennifer Lynn Teens Yoga Class, Kids Yoga Class with Erika Malorzo, Holly Keich, Kids Yoga with Suzi Zappile, Nat Aiello Yoga for Toddlers, Jennifer Lynn, Erika America Family Yoga Nidra, and Amy Necci Tween & Kids Yoga.
Rickie with Reiki by Rickie lead workshops for kids. It was so wonderful seeing Rickie work with kids and teach them about Reiki! So powerful to see children taking time to slow down and listen and feel the energy around them.
Dani & Shelley Herlihy played Kids Kirtan for us. Their music is beautiful and all the kids enjoyed sharing in song with them!
Julie Niblett read her book “The Talking Stick,” based on a true story of a boy who was bullied, and utilized the native American traditional talking stick to communicate and overcome obstacles.
Participants were able to make their very own talking stick, followed by a traditional circle discussion about effective communication. This was such a powerful experience for kids to have! We need more of this.
There was a Magic Show with River Barry, who has been immersed in the entertainment world for over twenty years. One of the most original and in-demand acts out there, River’s style of entertainment emphasizes moving beyond the present moment to help find an equal balance between self and nature, allowing the individual’s movement to be inspired by the moment. A magician, bubble artist, and rock balancing artist, River is committed to sharing the expression of the four foundational pillars of physical, mental, spiritual and financial.
About the book: It seems at first to be a story about a child’s reluctance to try new things. As the story progresses, he learns that while cherishing memories is beautiful, sometimes holding onto something for too long can hold us back! Share in Herbert’s discovery as he braves the outcome of making new choices.
William Autore shared, ”Finding Your Future”
About the book: Finding Your Future written by author/artist William Autore, featuring his son on the books’ cover, is a comprehensive guide to self awareness and discovery of one’s purpose. Debuting in 2017, Finding Your Future is currently in talks of becoming a school based curriculum in New Jersey and an independent short film.
Kathy Conners Bucher lead everyone in Super Hero Training where they practiced their special powers and talk about what makes these super humans special. They finish the class learning what special powers they possess and how to bring them forth to help humanity. Experiences like this set the stage for a more self aware child!
Tammy & Jack Bray Yoga “Sacred Silliness” is always a favorite of mine. We did group giggles as we stretched, moved, and got our joy on playing in Laughter Yoga. So amazing… to show kids its ok to be silly and be you!
For the weekend I offered Intuitive Henna, and sold prints of my artwork.
I also hosted a Flower of Life workshop for the kids, allowing them to co-create in completing flower of life murals. This taught them the importance of our choices, and being tolerant of others choices. Also it was a nice lesson in the idea that sometimes things don’t always go the way we expect them to… the universe sometimes throws new things in the mix.
There was also William G Pagan Live Performance with his Didgeridoo, which were out of this world! Qiqong with Kathy Conners Bucher, Chad Brown live music, Forest Meditation with Erica Jo Shaffer, and a community fire with music, and s’mores!
Chelsea did an amazing job bringing together people from different backgrounds to create a safe and magickal environment of creation, exploration, experimentation, questioning, expressing and reflecting.