The Umbrella Project

Back in August I was invited to deliver the visual arts component of a multi-arts workshop for the Choices youth program at the Hong Fook Mental Health Association’s North York branch.  Using the metaphor of sheltering umbrellas, the project explored and expressed themes of self-care in painting, writing, and performance.

Working closely alongside Kennes Lin, Program Worker and team lead for Choices, I helped with creative guidance as the teens developed the concepts they wished to paint on their umbrellas, many of them having some impressive skills already in art.  We only had a total of 2 sessions in which to cover the entire surface of these fairly sizable objects, so another one of my primary functions was that of a timekeeper…  Arriving at a concept that is elaborate enough to be interesting yet do-able within a limited time frame is quite an art in itself!  We had a highly divergent range of ideas, and an accordingly colourful array of designs.

The next phases were taken care of by other capable instructors.  Based on their painted works, the kids crafted a written piece, which in turn became the basis for a dance/performance, finally put on in front of an enthusiastic and supportive crowd at Hong Fook’s Annual General Meeting.  I was delighted to be a part of such an innovative and interdisciplinary project and am happy to share with you the following video, documenting the full process from beginning to end, including both the hands-on creativity involved and a few short interviews, including yours truly:

Next up with Hong Fook is this Friday’s final major exhibition of our summer project, 1000 Candles.  I’m very excited for that, and although we have decided to keep the show closed to the general community, I will make details available directly afterwards.


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