This year, for Phase II of the 20 Neighborhoods Project, Living Art Center’s Women Veterans Art Group and Imagine Englewood have come together to work on a collaborative art project. The workshops have been taking place at I.E.I., a safe space for residents of Englewood to come together and imagine a bright future for the neighborhood, and strategize on how it can be attained. Living Arts has come to Englewood from Andersonville to participate in the project, focused around this year’s theme: “A City of Communities.” For more photos, check out the facebook album.
The group, lead by teaching artist Betsy Zacsek and art therapist and Living Arts founder Suellen Semekoski, have been experimenting with paper making techniques and sculptural construction with found sticks and yarn. On the first day of the workshop, the participants took turns wrapping colorful yarn around the sticks, and using the opportunity to talk in a safe setting about their experiences in Englewood, Chicago, and at home with their families. The yarn and the sticks served as a powerful metaphor: when individuals are bound together to a form a community, they are less likely to break.
During the second day of the workshop, Betsy lead the group through the process of creating handmade paper from cotton pulp. The pulp was dyed to bright colors, and the participants were welcomed to experiment with paints, sculpture, pressing shapes, and cutting the edges. As Betsy said to participants during the workshop: “Experiment until you can’t stand to look at it anymore.” She really encouraged the group to step outside of their comfort zones and try something that they had never done before.
With one more session left to go, and more experimentation in store, save the date for Monday, October 21 to visit I.E.I. and see the final product. The Community Showcase will be held in conjunction with I.E.I.’s monthly community networking event, from 4-7pm. All are welcome, and light refreshments will be served.
–Lydia Shepard, Gallery Intern