In a recent workshop, fourteen students in an intensive academic English program created art from images that inspired them. I love the range of interests represented in the collages below, which include art, fashion, dance, religion, family, flowers, wild animals, waterfalls, sports, and space. Inspiring work, EAP 2 Study Skills!
Supporting the theme of environmental awareness, I recently facilitated two collage workshops for international students at a local college. Using recycled paper and images to great effect, the participants created a total of twenty-seven strikingly individual collages that delighted their teachers, their classmates, and me.
Please enjoy this on-line tribute to recycling and creativity!
Today I had the privilege of facilitating two collage workshops on the suggested theme of relaxation. After I got home this evening, I rushed to process pictures of the students’ collages because I was so eager to share their beauty, poetry, and magic!
The earth is at the bottom of the collage. I come from China, which is the other side of the world. There is a wave pushing a ship towards the colourful future (the flowers). My house is on the ship. The crane is like me because it looks back towards the sun, towards China and towards the past. My heart is with my family.
When I came to Canada, I had to start again at the bottom. I struggled and had a lot of stress. The stairs show my difficult climb back up to success.
(Then Geraldine removed the paper veil from the gold coin, making other participants literally gasp with surprise).
Brazil is not just about soccer and beautiful women. We have beautiful nature in the Amazon and a lot of interesting animals.
I wanted to make a collage about Mexico and one about Canada, my second home.
I come from a small town in Venezuala, and I used to spend a lot of time in nature. I miss it. It’s so different from city life in Toronto.
I wish all animals to be happy and to have enough to eat.
I have a mysterious side, and the right side of the collage represents this. I’d like to share some of these quotations with you.
Love isn’t just about love between a man and a woman. Love can also be for your family, your friends, for nature and all the animals, and for the world. Personal freedom is also important. I believe each person should be an individual and not have to be the same as everyone else.
I think our society is too focused on outer beauty and things like make-up. I believe inner beauty is more important.
The following day’s workshop on February 19th produced twelve more engaging collages which also call out to be shared here.
I wanted to show connection and emotion in this piece.
This is home life. The family around the table are missing their ancestors and praying. In the picture, some people are sad, lonely, or happy.
I grew up in the era of black and white photos, and I really like them. I think the world was simpler in the past.
If you go to Beijing, you can see old houses like these.
I want to escape Toronto’s cold winter. I also love to travel, so I put a postcard stamp on my collage.
My collage is about overcoming fear. In life, we are often afraid, but we should take risks to achieve our goals. Fear is like a mask that limits our view. If we dominate fear, we can change a tiger to a kitten. It’s also important to smile and laugh. We have to laugh at life. Otherwise, life will laugh at us.
My collage is about freedom.
Love is love!
To have hope, we need three things: fire, water, and family.
Responding to the theme of relaxation, a group of ECE students created this collection of spirited, meaningful, and colourful collages:
When my students make presentations about their artwork, I love the natural wisdom which emerges. I hope you find their collages as inspiring as I do!
This is my collage. We can see we have two mouse in here. On the right, we have one, oh, just so terrible. He just in the cleft and he (is) afraid the other animal will eat it. On the left, this animal can enjoy the sunshine and can in the farmland eat the rice. It’s so freedom. Oh, it’s relaxed, fantastic.
The meaning is like us. Why? Because we can in here have many rich people or people who come from the worker family. But we are the same. We are all human. So if you want to get success, you have to change. Maybe in this time, you are very relaxed or maybe in this time you are very afraid, but never mind because you can change. You can do it yourself and change your surroundings. You can get what you want. . . . . If you want to change, you have to work hard.
First, why I choose cat? Because the cat look like cute and look like a little lazy. Traditionally people say “The cat have nine lives.” Why cat have nine lives? Because cat is very very vigilant and focused for everything. Even though they look lazy and they don’t care about anything, cat is very focused for everything. If a mouse passes his eyes, he can be very focused to get it, to take the mouse, and eat it.
Traditional Chinese master say, “You’re safe in the danger, but you die in the good life.” What’s the meaning? Does anyone read the Bible? Have the story about a Jewish king named David. When he (was) younger, that last Jewish king want to kill him. Then he run away and don’t do any mistakes for God because he’s very focused on the dangerous life. But after this time passed and David become the king, he have a mistake because his life is so good.
For everything you need a focus. Does anybody play League of Warriors? Do you know, for this game you need a lot of focus so you can win. So everything in life you need to play like this game. Everyone need a focus. Don’t relax for everything. You understand?
My collage is about the art. And this art is by Frida Kahlo. She was born in Mexico, and she was important painter in Mexico and other countries. She was a sick woman all her life because she suffered life-long health problems because of a traffic accident when she was a teenager. She stayed in the bed all the time. She had a problem with her spinal column.
You can see the picture. She is Frida Kahlo. She had one eyebrow. In the middle, you can see arms and legs. The means the inspiration of this woman was influenced by her illness.
She did different self-portraits because she paint about her problems. She paint about her physical problem, emotional problems, and personal problems. And she has problems with her spinal column and her sexuality.
In this corner, you can see the man flying with an umbrella. He has wings, like Frida who said, “Because I have wings, I can fly.” What is the meaning? It’s impossible to fly, but you can fly with your imagination. You can fly with your dreams.
I choose this collage because I like her story. Frida Kahlo is my superhero. She is immortal.
Today I want to talk about Chinese history. Chinese history have about 5,000 or more years. You can see the three pictures. When you first see the three pictures, you think the three things have long history. In China, there are many museums, and there are many Chinese things in museums all over the world, for example, in the Royal Ontario Museum.
On the top left, is a bell. You can put it for ding, ding, ding. It’s a musical bell. On the right, this a jar to put some food in it. On the bottom, this is a picture of some jade.
At the top of my collage are two pictures, a tornado and a ship in a calm sea that is about to go over a waterfall. These two pictures tell us that in our lives we have some troubles. Some trouble will come to our lives, but don’t give up.
The bottom half of the collage has two pictures. This one is a picture of a drop of water. This one has a path and boat. You can feel very relaxed when you see these pictures. You can see that this is very calm. So every time you have troubles in your life, calm down is the first step, and you will solve it. You may have many, many bad days, but it’s not a bad life. You will believe that solve your troubles is a good choice. Give up is a bad choice. So believe in yourself and believe in ourselves!
My collage is about my future. At the top of the collage, there is a wooden bridge. All you you can see is that it is a long way. The weather is hazy. To the right of the bridge, there are many colourful clouds. In the lower right corner, you can see a house with five children and two old people inside.
The collage means a lot to me because it’s like my life. Maybe in my future I will be like that, from the hazy weather to a colourful world. I came alone here four months ago, but maybe in my future I will have many granddaughters and grandsons. They can begin to call me Grandma. So the future will be better.
Finally, here is the text from Jerry’s presentation. (Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of his collage because he made it a few days after the other students).
There are only three pictures in this collage. Here is one cat. What is he doing? He’s a sleeping cat, and he is dreaming. The question is, what he dreaming about? Many people will think he’s dreaming of gold. It’s so exciting. But if you want to understand the truth, he isn’t dreaming of gold. He’s dreaming of freedom. Animals and humans dream of freedom. Gold is cheaper than freedom. Freedom is what all humans and animals want.
My collage bag and I paid a visit to a colleague’s ESL class this morning for a guest lesson. In forty minutes, sixteen fantastic collages emerged, creating a buzz of creative excitement!
To follow up a recent textbook unit on healthy lifestyles, I asked the students to make collages on the theme of relaxation. The resulting collages made me proud of their individuality, creativity, and colors!
Last week I facilitated a Valentine’s Day art workshop at the college where I teach ESL, and the students’ work delighted me with its playful quirkiness. The natural creativity that surfaces when people sit around a table covered with pictures, glitter glue, thread, markers, stickers, scissors, and ribbon is a joy to behold!
The day after the workshop, I decided to take the abundant leftover materials to one of my classes and repeat the activity. Like the workshop attendees, these students made beautifully imaginative Valentine’s cards with messages both sweet and funny.
“In the middle of the picture, you can see a girl. She is very beautiful like the flowers. She has a boyfriend. He is very poor. In the top left corner, you can see him. They love each other. One day, there is man who looks like a frog. He’s in love with the girl, too. He’s very rich. He has an expensive car. That girl finishes with her boyfriend. She chooses the rich man. What do you think of this story?”
“This collage is about my dream of having a house in nature. You can see the lakes, flowers, and butterflies are part of nature. I can have my breakfast by the lake and go fishing. It’s very important to enjoy life.”
“My collage is about art. This piece is about an Impressionist’s picture. Maybe it’s Monet, but I’m not sure. It’s about colour and sunflowers. On the left, this is a (purple flower) mountain. I made it.
Art is about what you think. Like this pink flower, I think this is for a sun. What you think, your opinion, is important (see the ideas coming out of the top of the head). Art is about music and dancing, like when the people copy the animal action then make a dancing. Nature is my artist.”
“First, my collage it’s about me. . . . . It’s about what I like and it represent me. This part (the map) means I want to travel all over the world. My favourite flower is roses. My best friend’s favourite animal is the tiger, and it’s my favourite one, too.
I am a woman. I am very proud of that. I love dance. I’m a mysterious person. I’m very friendly. And I love art.
The most beautiful place I ever saw before is Niagara Falls. My favourite food is salmon, chocolate, and ice-cream. And I really like fireworks. My favourite movie is Beauty and the Beast. The angel right here, all my friends in Mexico tell me I have an angel inside or something. I don’t know why. My favourite sport is swim. It’s really easy for me to love somebody. I like to draw. And this butterfly in the other hand of the lady swimming is me, too, because it’s in a jail, and when I come here I feel like I am a free butterfly.
This part says, “Home is where one starts from.” Everybody tells me your home is with your family, but I changed my mind. I think your home is where you want to stay, where you want to live.”
“My collage is about the universe. I like the universe. It is so charming and so mystery. People want to explore its secrets. You can see the small solar system that includes eight planets. . . . The earth is a beautiful and magic planet.”
“Ladies and gentlemen. Next one is Jerry. Jerry’s showtime! Enjoy my presentation . . . My main idea is the ocean and all of things about blue. . . This guy is Poisedon. He has a gold arm and a trident, his weapon. This one is so cute, Luna. Very fashionable with sunglasses. I think this is angel about the ocean. She has wings and an oar. Her shoes look like boats. The penguins follow the goddess to catch sardines. When I was younger, I had a dream. I really wanted to become a marine biologist. Maybe the little boy will become a new Captain Nemo. And the broken ship is maybe the Titanic, and the big diamond is the heart of the ocean.
In my life, I really like water and the sea or ocean everything about blue or water. When you are in the water, you feel very freedom, very calm down, and very clear. The ocean is very clear in our planet. God and humans and animals and nature are very balanced. They protect or keep each other.”
“In my opinion, we need four things to be happy: friends, family, dreams, and smiling. Whether we are children or seniors, we need to enjoy time together with friends.”
“In the right corner, you can see a shark. He seems to represent fear. In the top left corner, this is a cute dog. It’s something kind, something good, something positive. You can also see the butterfly. And there’s a man who try to reach the stars.
This collage is about my thoughts about my life. Sometimes we hear a noise and we think that it is something dangerous. We try to turn back and looking what it is, but usually it’s something cute like this cute dog who want to play and make a noise. Fear pulls you back. If we release our fear, we can reach to the stars.”
“This is a gift for my best friend. We live in different countries, but we talk by phone and internet. We have a dream. When we one day have homes of our own, we will be neighbours, a big family. Our hearts will be together forever. The bird and the butterfly are very different, but we can fly together.
We have been to many different places together. Different colours mean different cities in China we have visited together . . . . Our friendship like the tree will be more and more thick.
The picture is for my best friend. And she said, ‘Oh, I am crying. You are so sweet.’ So I am so happy. I know that’s not very beautiful and not very well but that’s special for us and that’s our memories.”
“When you have some trouble, you must be like this woman and go ahead and keep going. Don’t stop. Sometimes when you get in trouble, your emotions is very dead. But sometimes in your life you can find little beautiful things that will encourage you, like a flower or a cup of cappuccino. They will let you have power so you can just keep going to face the trouble.”
“He is a little potato. He is a normal people. He has a good dream, but he don’t have a chance. He don’t have money. No car, no house, no wife. He’s single for many years. He’s very depressed, very sad. He thinks God never help him.
One day he want to give up his life. He found a old house. This house nobody live here, is not used. He want to over his life for here. But he’s very lucky. He found a pot of gold. This is his first pot of gold in his life. He’s very exciting. This gold will change his life. It give him confidence, power, and hope. For this day, he very hard work every day and learn more knowledge about his business. One day he become a good businessman. Finally, he’s successful. He find his angel girl. This girl is his wife.”
“This is a story. A man is at the Kansas City Zoo. He’s a hunter. He wants to shoot the cat, but the cat shouts, ‘Help’ and the elephant protects the cat. Then the dog goes to fight the elephant because he wants to help his master. The dog gets hurt and the man feels sad. He change his mind and decides to never shoot another animal again. He now understands that protecting animals is our responsibility.”
“This collage is not good. I think I’m not artistic, so it’s just a simple story. One day the girl is so boring so she’s just thinking about some things and animals. First of all, the girl is thinking about a pond. The pond have some lotus leaves. The frog’s drinking on the leaves. Near the pond have an elephant. The elephant is gonna come here because he wants to drink water. This girl is thinking about why rabbits don’t swimming in the pond. She thinks good things. She’s happy. I think her smile is very funny. That’s all.”
“The woman in the picture is my mother. She’s in her house in Brazil where it is very warm (see the sun). The bird represents my travelling to Canada, and the hearts are my love for my mom. The man is me in Canada. The leaf is a symbol of Canada, the country where I learn English.”
“I don’t know how I made that. This collage’s meaning is balance and change. Sometimes in life we need balance . . . Also, sometimes we need change. When you change, you will find your life will be interesting. It doesn’t matter bad or good. Even if it’s bad, you can enjoy this. You can get something interesting.”
“First, a salute to Mr. Jobs since he give us a wonderful machine, wonderful technology, and lots of high-tech things we can use.
The background of the picture is past to future. Our earth is such a beautiful planet in our galaxy. Importantly, here have life. Long ago, the humans not have language and not have a lot of things like today’s high-tech. But they found fire. They should eat and have life.
Humans need war and mythology. Mythology story tells people, ‘You should be brave.’ But sometimes some king is like the tiger and so bad and always hate the people. The people don’t like him, so they throw him out.
Some countries exclude themselves from the outside world. But one day they open the door, and they see it’s a wonderful world. Another country is so strong and have high-level culture and have high-tech. Even though humans need to go to war and development, sometimes I think war is not a must, so Olympic Games show us we can use another way to show the country’s power. Finally, I hope the world can peace.”
Mosaic Dream Waves appears two years after my first public art exhibit, Maps of Loss: Rivers, Ruins, and Grief. On display until July 31 at Runnymede Library, Mosaic Dream Waves has a lighter approach than my previous display. Turning from melancholy to playfulness, the artwork pictured here invites you to visit an inner landscape where waves perform on stage, a mystical ornament shines, a yogini flies on a crazy quilt, and a dancing bird woman keeps company with a raven and a horse on wheels.
As part of the opening reception on July 13th, I offered a free collage workshop that took place in the program room across the hall from the gallery. My mother, Carlyle Raine, kindly offered to help with the workshop, and the beautiful art that emerged captivated us with its originality, energy, and flair.
Thank you, Runnymede Library, for fostering community art, learning, and creativity under the eaves of your poetic attic!