Photos taken by Monica Kovach…thank you, Monica!
Photos taken by Monica Kovach…thank you, Monica!
“Raising Funds and Raising Awareness – The Work Before the Work”
by Emily Wilson
I am so incredibly excited, and perhaps just now realizing, that we are going to Cambodia to learn, to serve, to share our skills, and to build relationship. That may seem strange, as this blog and project have been going on for over a year, a group of students already went and I had been accepted for this project months ago. But for me, it is just becoming real. So much preparation has been going on; learning about Cambodia and Trauma-Informed Art Therapy®, exploring cultural humility, discussing ethics, getting vaccines, figuring out the schedule logistics and NGOs that we will be partnering with, participating in community awareness events, and raising funds. It is hard to believe that in less than two months, we will be on the plane to Cambodia getting ready to embark on a life changing experience.
So, how do we pay for the plane tickets, the art supplies to bring, the accommodation for students and supervisors while we are there? The answer – A lot of hard work and all of you! I began getting involved with NCAS-I at the beginning of 2012. I helped serve in the role as Project Manger to organize the 2012 Art Auction Gala, then the 2012 Painting Marathon and now this year’s Art Auction Gala. It took a dedicated and tireless body of student volunteers, community members, and faculty and staff to coordinate, and take responsibility for all of the moving parts to create these successful fundraisers. Since the start of this project less than two years ago, we have held over 30 formal 2-4 hours meeting and countless one-off meetings, over 500 individually tracked tasks our control log, enough funds raised to ‘pay it forward’ to sponsor the next year’s trip each year, over 300 volunteers, 250 artists donating matchboxes, and numerous in-kind donations including entertainment, food and drink.
So, why do we do this? Perhaps if each person took the countless hours invested to work a part time job, we could raise the same amount, or even more funds towards the trip. I have three answers for this:
1. It builds community – This year’s trip will be undertaken by a group of ten students and two supervisors. Through our time together and especially our time working hard to create these events, we are building cohesiveness in our group. A sense of community, togetherness, with each member having an active and contributing role helps to describe group cohesiveness (Corey, Corey & Corey, 2010, Yalom & Leszc, 2005). I am learning through our process of hard work that I can count on each person, I am seeing others’ many strengths, and I feel we are creating a bond that will hopefully serve us well as we embark on this adventure.
2. It brings awareness – These events also bring awareness to the community and create an environment for dialogue; about sex trafficking, about international work and cultural humility, about the ethics involved, about working with fair trade organizations and orphanages, about sending collective prayers and wishes for peace. And in addition to the fund-raising events, we participate in many other community awareness events, such as the Longmont Street Festival, at which we talked about this project, and created prayer flags as a symbol for hopes and wishes. NCAS-I members also spoke about their 2012 trip at a community event and spoke at a Naropa Board meeting to bring awareness within the Naropa Community. We participated in CU’s Eye Contact event, which was specifically geared towards the issues of human trafficking. We participated in Art Therapy workshops at BMOCA, a sex trafficking symposium with Transitions, spoke on KGNU, had a feature in Naropa Magazine and the Daily Camera, the Boulder Weekly and more! We are sparking a dialogue and trying to bring a moment for discussion wherever we go.
3. It is FUN! – Each event I participated in and even the work up to the event was FUN! We laugh, we have exciting events, we create together, we eat great food, we express gratitude and it is super fun. Rather than write anymore, I have included these pictures to express my sentiment.
Corey C., Corey J., & Corey M. (2010). Groups: Process and practice (8th ed.). Brooks/Cole: Belmont, CA.
Yalom, I & Leszcz, M. (2005). The Theory and practice of group psychotherapy. Basic Books: Cambridge, MA.
“The Transformational Power of Art”
By Lisa Lamoreaux
The 2nd Annual Matchbox Art Auction Gala is just around the corner, and our team is busy preparing for the event. I get more and more excited with each matchbox coming in. I am amazed and inspired by the creativity of the artists. Inspecting them closely, I see the tiny masterpieces as a snapshot into the artist’s personal universe. Each box becomes its own world, with its own story that is unique to the artist’s hand that created it. All the pieces are so different, and yet, all connected through their humble beginnings as a matchbox. A matchbox turned into something more – a beautiful piece of art that will be auctioned off at this year’s gala.
When thinking of the incredible matchbox transformations, I am reminded of something I read in preparation for our upcoming trip to Cambodia. Herbert (2012) talks about finding in the galleries and shops of Cambodia, works of art and jewelry crafted from the metal of old, deactivated landmines. Herbert (2012) describes these pieces of jewelry and art as being proof of the possibilities to transform traumatic experiences through art. When reading this, I was struck by the Cambodian people’s resiliency. They are literally taking pieces of their traumatic, war torn history and turning it into something beautiful. They are using art to rewrite the stories and reclaim their culture. By doing this, the people of Cambodia are integrating their experiences and healing from societal trauma.
“Hanging Love Charm” by Merryl Rothaus
Many of the people we will be working with in Cambodia have experienced trauma on both a historical and a personal level. We are going there to offer art therapy as a tool to heal these traumas. It is also important to remember that the Cambodian people are the experts of their experiences, and that we are going there to learn from them.
In 2011 a group of people were inspired to expand Naropa Community Art Studio (NCAS) to include international work (NCAS-I). The dream started with $50 dollars that bought 500 matchboxes. Those matchboxes were transformed into masterpieces, and auctioned off to raise funds at our first Matchbox Art Auction Gala. The gala was such a success that we decided to do it again. The 2013 service-learning trip to Cambodia is made possible through the support of our community coming together and donating time and money. Please join us for the 2nd Annual Matchbox Art Auction Gala, April 12, 2013, from 7 to 10pm for a fun-filled night of art and entertainment.
Herbert, C. (2012). Integration of arts therapy and traditional Cambodian arts and rituals in recovering from political-societal trauma In D. Kalmanowitz, J. Potash & S. Chan (Eds.), Art therapy in Asia: To bone or wrapped in silk (pp. 209-220). Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
“The Ethics of Matchbox Art”
By James Huffman
As part of our preparation for our work in Cambodia we have been exploring ethical issues related to the field of art therapy. Our beacon through this, sometimes cloudy area, has been Bruce Moon’s (2006) work, Ethical Issues in Art Therapy, which does an excellent job highlighting various perspectives and providing scenarios for consideration. As prepared as we may feel, however, for whatever ethical dilemmas we may encounter, there will always be situations which fall outside our textbooks and where we will have to exercise our best judgment.
One such situation occurred several weeks ago at a youth matchbox art making party at Sterling Drive Studios. It was the end of the night and we had just begun the tedious work of deciding which scraps of paper and fabric were large enough to keep and which to throw away, whether it is worth it to fish those 7 beads out of the dustpan or should we toss the whole mess… We had given the artists the option of either donating their matchboxes at the end of the night or keeping them and had received several donations. In the chaos of cleanup, some of the donated matchboxes were placed on the same table as scraps and other materials to be sorted. One piece of matchbox art was particularly confusing – several crumpled pieces of paper drizzled in hot glue with matchsticks stuck seemingly at random throughout it. Initially thinking this to be trash, I threw it in the garbage with the other used and discarded materials. When later I saw it back on the table, I was told it was a donated matchbox with a $1,000 price tag (artists are allowed to suggest a minimum bid for their work).
After cleanup we began packing the donated matchboxes for travel and faced the decision of what to do with the cup. In all likelihood, the extravagant pricetag was a joke and the $1,000 minimum bid would not be met. We would then have to make arrangements after the Gala to return the matchbox to the artist, creating more work for ourselves. So do we keep it?
I believe the answer is yes. As art therapists it is important to define the playing field and stick to the boundaries we set, especially in work with youth and adolescents where conflicts over boundaries are more likely to occur (Santrock, 2010). Boundaries can be reassessed as we go, but they should not be applied retroactively. In this instance we had not provided any boundaries around what the matchbox art should look like or what the minimum bids should be. There is also the possibility that the artist is an aspiring trash sculptor – the likes of HA Schult – and honestly believes their work is worth $1,000. We can’t really know. All we know for certain is that the artist created a unique piece of art, then took the time to fill out a donation form and it is up to us to honor that donation.
Santrock, J. (2010). Lifespan Development. New York: McGraw-Hill
*details have been changed to protect the identity of the artist
“Using Our Voices”
By Bethany Wells
“The realization that one exists as a whole of mutually conditioned relationships and that one is absolutely connected with all of existence may be the next step in human evolution” -Francis Vaughn
The NCAS-I team has been working with enthusiasm and dedication in preparation for our 2nd annual learning-service opportunity to work with women and girls who have escaped the sex trade. When I began my journey into art therapy it was with a clear intention of working cross-culturally, with marginalized and underserved communities, and in the field of social justice. When the possibility to get involved with the issue of sex trafficking by using art as a means toward healing arose, I knew this was an incredible chance to learn about, witness, and work with the suffering of the world. That said, there is still so much I don’t understand about the complex and pervasive system of deception, coercion, betrayal, sexual exploitation, and brutality that exists in and between almost every culture across the globe.
It can be argued that sex trafficking begins with poverty. With nearly every survivor there is a story of a family who did not have enough money to feed their children, could only afford to send one child to school so they chose the boy, and/or unequal opportunity for women and girls to find other sources of income. It is also speculated that most females who are or have been sex slaves or work(ed) in the sex industry have a history of abuse and/or addiction. But on top of these intertwining explanations, there are human beings that prey on the vulnerability of the poor, homeless, and young; that drug, kidnap, manipulate, coerce, control, intimidate, and physically, sexually, emotionally and psychologically abuse other human beings. Modern day sexual slavery is an organized criminal enterprise that condemns millions of women and children to social (and often literal) death, for the sexual pleasure and profit of others.
Where does one begin to address this problem? Why is there such disparity in access to resources throughout the world? Why is there still unequal opportunity for education and employment between genders? And how could anyone be capable of committing such atrocities against another person?
Learning to be therapists, it is difficult enough to face the reality of sexual and domestic violence as it operates interpersonally or in a single family. How much more difficult then, to face the reality of sexual violence as exercised by an elaborate and alarmingly lucrative industry that operates in nearly every community, systematically reducing victims to the condition of slavery (Herman, 2004). Knowing this phenomenon, studying the staggering worldwide statistics, and hearing the stories of survivors who have chosen to break the silence, fills my head with shock, horror, disgust, and dread. Dread that the problem is too big, too deeply rooted in patriarchy and capitalism, power and corruption. But when I look at organizations like Lotus Outreach International, Chab Dai, Polaris Project, iEmpathize, Truckers Against Trafficking, NCAS-I, and more, I see hope. I know that it may be too much for one person but with the number of activists, advocates, and brigades increasing every day, and the ability to approach this issue from countless different angles, change is possible.
Since my time with this project began I have had many conversations about the issue of sex trafficking with people who were either not aware of modern day slavery, or had a vague idea but assumed it only happened “over there” in countries far away and very different from ours. Thirty years ago, rape, domestic violence, and incest were similarly invisible, despite their high prevalence. A mass movement was required to bring these abuses into public awareness, which has resulted in enormous changes in the criminal justice system and victim advocacy. One hundred and fifty years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves during the civil war, it is astonishing that we still face the need to fight slavery. But the fact is—today, human trafficking is a $32-billion worldwide industry with more than 2.7 million people enslaved; has been reported in all 50 states, and the number of victims in the United States are estimated in the hundreds of thousands (U.S. Department of Justice).
In addition to the increasing numbers of organizations working to eradicate human trafficking, progress is being made regarding institutional accountability. In September, President Obama pledged his commitment to renew the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) during a highly public speech at the Clinton Global Initiative. Some say it was the longest speech on slavery by a U.S. president since the Emancipation Proclamation. The president also announced an executive order to strengthen U.S. efforts to stop human trafficking in government contracting, pledged to provide relevant officials and agencies with training and guidance programs on human trafficking, and promised to expand resources and services for trafficking survivors. On March 7th, 2013, hundreds of advocates, survivors, law enforcement officials and lawmakers gathered to witness President Obama sign legislation to renew the TVPA.
Ending modern slavery will not come with one speech, one executive order, or one signed piece of legislation. It will come if all of us—citizens, governments, corporations, and the philanthropic community—make it the priority it needs to be. “The demands for young adolescent girls, the abuses perpetrated by traffickers and brothel owners, and the social attitudes toward the women who become their victims are all issues that need to be addressed on a global level” (Freed 2004). The social and political institutions that support prostitution and the individuals who perpetuate and maintain such abuses for personal and financial gain need to be stopped. Only then will we be on our way to ensuring that every person is afforded the human dignity we deserve, no matter where we were born or what circumstances we find ourselves in.
In our recent conversations about ethical marketing and fundraising, NCAS-I members have grappled with how to address the issue of sex trafficking in a way that grabs and holds attention without sensationalization or unintentionally contributing to the exotification of victims, people’s fascination, disgust, or misconceptions, and we have experienced some paralyzing uncertainty regarding the complexity of language. But still, we have to talk about it. The main contributor to any cycle of violence (in addition to shame and stigma) is silence. We must use our voices and privilege (ethically, sensitively and respectfully of course) in ways that victims can’t, in order to get this issue on everyone’s radar. And for those of us who are artists and aspiring art therapists, we have another, far-reaching and important instrument for activism and healing. I am beyond excited to be a part of the large community of people working to eradicate this system of abuse and to assist women in discovering and/or reclaiming their incredible power.
Freed, W. (2004). From duty to despair: Brothel prostitution in Cambodia. In M. Farley, Prostitution, trafficking and traumatic stress (pp. 1-13). NY, NY: Routledge.
Herman, J.L. (2004). Introduction. In M. Farley, Prostitution, trafficking and traumatic stress (pp. 133-146). NY, NY: Routledge.
With sincere gratitude,
The Naropa Community Art Studio-International (NCAS-I)
“For our painting, Team Dinosaurus Rex took a heavily process oriented approach. This focus on process led to a theme emerging and evolving, but staying relatively the same throughout most of the painting marathon. Some of the first marks included a sketchy image of a dinosaur. That dinosaur changed and evolved throughout the marathon, but never disappeared. Within the first six hours a tree emerged. The tree went through many transformations throughout the 48 hours, finally serving as a space for our team of painters to represent their personal symbols in. The final product is a collaborative piece that has captured snapshots of all the hands that have lovingly contributed to it. With little to no direction our community of painters created a beautiful and intriguing image, an image that the viewers can look at for hours finding little secrets hidden within. Our piece is evidence that beauty can be found in trusting the process.”
AND…Last week to donate!
We’re approaching the last week of fundraising, so if you would still like to donate to the Painting Marathon and support the mission of the Naropa Community Art Studio-International, follow this link! An anonymous donor will be matching all donations made through November 25, up to $1,000, so NOW IS THE TIME!
THANK YOU from the NCAS-I!
Check out this cool time lapse video of the evolution of Team Soaring Hearts’ Painting for the 48 Hour Painting Marathon!
PLUS! DON’T MISS SEEING THESE PHOTOS!
The talented Dave Meas generously volunteered his time to take photographs throughout the Painting Marathon. Check out his photographs on Flickr here!
Team Dinosaurus Rex: Final Painting
Team Tutulicious Animalz: Final Painting
Time lapse video courtesy of Erin Shannon…thank you, Erin!
For now, we want you all to know that WE DID IT! We had an AMAZING show of support leading up to and during the 48 Painting Marathon and have raised over $12,000 AND COUNTING! The event resulted in three stunning, community created paintings and a studio filled with passion for an incredible mission. We could not have done it without you…
With love and gratitude,
The Naropa Community Art Studio-International
Stay tuned for the Closing Ceremony tonight and the unveiling of the final paintings. If you’re in the area, please join us from 7-9 p.m. tonight for a fun time and the grand finale!
As always, THANK YOU for your support! We’ve raised close to $11,000! http://www.crowdrise.com/paintingmarathon2012