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Workshop explores violence and healing

February 20, 2012

Participants at Words and Afterwards, a free collage workshop focused on themes of violence and healing, create art work that combines words and images.

Photo by Britteny Dee | The State News

After Therese Penn’s high school friend was kidnapped and murdered, her view of her role in the world changed drastically.

“It was a really pivotal event in my life,” she said. “I suddenly became aware that I was a woman, and I was vulnerable. Until then, I just saw myself as a person. That set in motion a fear in my mind (that) women are prey and men are predators.”

Penn was one of about 15 participants in a recent workshop, Words and Afterwards, that focused on combining images and words into a collage to explore the themes of violence and healing.

At the event, which took place from 7-9:30 p.m. Feb. 13 and again from 4-6:30 p.m. Monday in the RCAH art studio, participants did various writing activities and incorporated that work into a collage of images from magazines and other publications.

“I enjoyed the process and being around other women who were also sharing their story,” Penn said. “It was a nice marriage of the written word and telling a story visually.”

Melissa Hasbrook, who is one of the event’s organizers, said she choose to have participants use collage as their artistic medium because it would allow for a wider range of skill levels to partake.

“We were thinking of things that would be accessible and affordable for a project such as this, and collage gives people room to grow,” she said.

Lansing resident Sandra Cade said she came to Monday’s event because she was excited to make a collage, which she has been doing a lot lately.

Cade said she works with women who have been affected by violence often and believes art projects such as collaging are an effective way to cope with pain.

“It’s important to recognize that healing can come through art,” she said.

Cade said she enjoyed the workshop because it allowed her to work in a group setting but also in isolation when she wanted.

“(It’s comforting) knowing that there are other people around you who are with their thoughts,” she said.

The collages made at the two workshops will be rendered into a book to become part of an exhibition at (SCENE) Metrospace, 110 Charles St., and later will be given to various community groups.

Hasbrook said by putting participants’ work out in the public eye, she hopes to connect artists and community members.

“(I want to) bring new people to the arts scene and also get people from the art scene in contact with community members who otherwise might not be coming to such a space,” she said.

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