18 Dec

Building Bridges Art Exhibit

December 2018 — Our Building Bridges of Hope art therapy group for mothers held an exhibit of work created over the course of the fall.  The projects created represent the growth that each mother experienced as she processed her feelings through clay, photography, sculpture and doll-making. They express messages of courage and hope.

Building Bridges participants, group leader Monica Sanchez, and art therapy interns

HUMMINGBIRD  “I have a tattoo of a hummingbird. Aside from it’s meaning, it is a beautiful bird. It goes from to flower–the nectar of life–to survive. I want it to live in an open space, all green, with trees, a waterfall–the sounds of water and of nature are what calms me the most. I painted you purple because it represents calm and fills me with life, with light. The hummingbird, for its beauty, flies free, looks for what it needs and returns to nature.”

DOVE  “A messenger in white, carrying an olive branch — I read about it in the bible. It is a symbol of paz. There are so many battles. Many need peace but it doesn’t exist; they have lost it. I feel differently. New things are coming from me. I want the dove to live in the mountains, the white clouds and the blue sky.”

BUTTERFLY “From the caterpillar comes something as beautiful as a butterfly. It learns to survive and is so delicate. Like butterflies, we should learn to take flight and learn to be happy. I want it to live in a tranquil place, in a harmonious forest.”

A doll making project. Group participants were interviewed about their dolls. Diana described her doll as “trying to find who she is by exploring her life struggles and survive through that.” She is brave “because she has no choice.”

“I never had a doll. My mother was never able to buy me one. Now, at last, I have my doll and her name is Esperanza (Hope) because I still have faith in better life, to get what you want.”

A project for the Day of the Dead, honoring loved ones

19 Nov

Invisible Women: A Model of Trauma-Informed Care

The sound of crinkling foil whispers through the room as a couple dozen art therapy and social work students bend their heads over balled up sheets of aluminum.  Mónica Sánchez, senior mental health counselor and art therapist at LSA Family Health Service, moves through the room, answering questions.

She is leading the students in a ‘self-acceptance’ art therapy exercise she regularly employs with women at LSA.  She has presented her methodology at NYU, Columbia University, the New York Women’s Resilience Conference, and the national Philadelphia Trauma Training Conference, among others.

What makes Sánchez’ work unique is the way she combines trauma-informed cognitive behavioral therapy with art therapy. She is able to reach immigrant women with literacy barriers whose primarily language may be an indigenous language, like Mixteco. Because these women can be reluctant to seek outside help, even to go to the hospital, they are often “invisible” in traditional systems of care.

“Who is serving women who are indigenous?” Sánchez said recently. “Sometimes they don’t even speak Spanish. The students really want to understand how we do that.”

The key is the art therapy.  Where a patient in traditional cognitive behavioral therapy may be asked to write about her feelings, Sánchez employs artistic mediums such as drawing, photography and clay work.

“We’re designing a program that is tailored for clients of LSA.  Some may not know how to read or write, but they’re very intelligent.”

By sharing her culturally-competent approach to therapy with immigrant women, she helps others understand the complexity of the work. “All of our clients are high-risk,” she explains. On any given day, Monica may be helping a client struggling with domestic violence, sexual abuse, suicide risk, or postpartum depression.

She emphasizes the importance of building a trusting relationship with the client as part of the trauma-informed approach: “I use every moment to make a connection. I’m very privileged because clients really trust the agency. I think they feel safe here. They’re able to express themselves better and advocate for themselves.”

For women who meet weekly in her art therapy group, workshops culminate in exhibits of their art work. Sánchez highlights the exhibit as a clinical goal. “It is an amplification of their voices,” she explains. “It is recognizing a story that has beauty in it, even if it has been tragic and difficult. Clients really like it. Some clients cry when they see their self-portraits. They don’t recognize themselves.”

06 Jun

Yarn Painting Workshop with Mano a Mano

On Thursday, Mano a Mano joined parents in our nursing and art therapy groups to lead a yarn painting workshop through it’s Mexico in New York program. They made Wixara-inspired yarn paintings. Through the program, mothers in our Building Bridges art therapy group have also learned how to make a Tsikuri yarn object (“el ojo De Dios”) and paper flowers inspired by Mexican folk art traditions.

The yarn paintings are inspired by the visionary art of the Wixarika (Huichol) people native to the Mexican states of Durango, Jalisco, Nayarit and Zacatecas. Using multicolored yarns, each participant created a unique artwork based in traditional designs.

Our art therapy workshops target mothers in the community.  They offer the women who participate an important opportunity to connect with each  other and with their own thoughts and emotions through the vehicle of self expression.

Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders is a New York-based non-profit organization  dedicated to celebrating Mexican culture and promoting the understanding of Mexican traditions.   Mexico in New York is a program designed to bring Mexican art and culture to classrooms and community groups. All activities include a lecture on the history of the tradition followed by a workshop or live music and dance performances.

11 Dec

Weaving Stories of Hope

SAORI weaving with Building Bridges

Mothers in the Building Bridges art therapy group learned to express themselves through weaving, with the help of teachers from SAORI Arts NYC.  On Dec. 14th, the group held an exhibit of work completed throughout the fall session and a celebration, which included communal weaving and dancing.  See photos of the fun event, below.

For several sessions, mothers have had the opportunity to learn SAORI weaving techniques from Yukako Satone, founder of Loop of the Loom weaving studio and a SAORI certified instructor.  With guidance from LSA’s art therapist and mental health counselor, Monica Sanchez, members of the group have used the weaving process to work through their own personal stories.

SAORI is a form of free-style weaving. It brings the joy of creative expression and individual sense of accomplishment to each of our participants and builds a sense of community among them.

The Building Bridges Art Therapy Group is fortunate to have formed a partnership with SAORI Arts NYC (SANYC), a non-profit organization that brings this healing art to people suffering from complex trauma as well as people with developmental, physical and emotional challenges.

 

Building Bridges Exhibit, December 2017
 

 

02 Jun

Building Bridges Art Exhibition

Art work created by participants in the Building Bridges Support Group throughout the spring 2017 session will be displayed.  Participants are encouraged to bring family and friends and share their experience in the group.

 

01 Jun

Building Bridges Art Exhibition

Eight mothers participating in our Building Bridges of Hope Art Therapy Group this spring shared their work in a special art exhibition at LSA.

Building Bridges of Hope is a support group with the goal of empowering women, helping them increase self-esteem, build confidence, and find a way out of fear and isolation.  Art activities become the tools to facilitate self-expression, reduce feelings of shame and guilt, and develop coping skills to deal with anxiety and depression.

Below are highlights from the exhibit.

 

Photography: What does it mean to love with your whole heart?

Portraits of strong women

Portraits of Strong Women

Light boxes

Clay: Participants created objects to explore notions of identity within their community.

Portraits of Immigrant Women:  What does it mean to be an immigrant for  you?  “It’s about work and sacrifice.  It’s leaving your family behind to look for a better life.”

 

 

Felting. Participants said: “It was beautiful what came out. The result was surprising.”

Felting

Still Painting: The goal was to develop observation skills, pay attention to details and explore the concept of impermanence.

18 May

Building Bridges Support Group

The Building Bridges of Hope Support Group meets every Thursday from 9:30am  – 11:30am.  The group helps mothers who might otherwise feel isolated create community with each other through activities aimed at helping participants explore their thoughts and emotions.

This session will feature a felting workshop.

Activities are led by LSA Mental Health Counselor/Art Therapist, Mónica Sánchez.

11 May

Building Bridges Mother’s Day Celebration

A special Mother’s Day celebration with the Building Bridges support groups and other mothers at our agency.

The Building Bridges of Hope Support Group meets every Thursday from 9:30am  – 11:30am.  The group helps mothers who might otherwise feel isolated create community with each other through activities aimed at helping participants explore their thoughts and emotions.

Activities are led by LSA Mental Health Counselor/Art Therapist, Mónica Sánchez.

04 May

Building Bridges Support Group

The Building Bridges of Hope Support Group meets every Thursday from 9:30am  – 11:30am.  The group helps mothers who might otherwise feel isolated create community with each other through activities aimed at helping participants explore their thoughts and emotions.

This session will feature a felting workshop.

Activities are led by LSA Mental Health Counselor/Art Therapist, Mónica Sánchez.

27 Apr

Building Bridges Support Group

The Building Bridges of Hope Support Group meets every Thursday from 9:30am  – 11:30am.  The group helps mothers who might otherwise feel isolated create community with each other through activities aimed at helping participants explore their thoughts and emotions.

Activities are led by LSA Mental Health Counselor/Art Therapist, Mónica Sánchez.