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October 04, 2022

Seven ArtStarts Explores episodes to build a sense of self

Hi! My name is Peisen Ding. I am ArtStart’s Program Assistant. I’ve curated a list of seven ArtStarts Explores episodes. ArtStarts Explores is our hands-on workshop. The episodes I selected to draw on the theme of knowing ourselves and our bodies. Before I share the episodes, I would like to share a bit about myself.

In addition to being a Program Assistant, I am also a visual artist. I explore my queer identity in the context of everyday urban life through my art practice. It helps me to observe the city, be aware of my surroundings and uncover social issues so that I can understand myself in relation to where I live. I hope my work can provide love, care, and courage to people who are immigrants to Canada and/or part of the LGBTQIA2S+ community. 

Now, on to the episodes.

1. Alphabet Selfies

with Kay Slater

In this episode, Kay shows us different ways of expressing our names. Kay tries to “draw” their name on a paper. Then they tear it apart. They questioned if the name is still recognizable to them. They wonder how others might read it when seeing the fragments of ‘KAY’. 

This creative process makes me think about several things. First, how we might express our name depends on who we are telling it to. As an immigrant from China, my original name is not written in Latin letters. Watching this episode really pushes me to think further about the spelling and pronunciation of my name in English. Is there any loss of meaning when my name is transferred to English? How can I make my name more ME when expressing it in English? I can definitely say I feel less connected to my name when writing it down in English. I encourage you to follow Kay’s process and think more about your name. It could be a good start to get to know more about yourself.

2. Exploring Body Neutrality with Self Portraits

with Keimi Nakashima-Ochoa

Keimi helps us to understand different features on our faces in a neutral way. By neutral, we mean that we don’t assign judgment or value to our features. The expectation of something being “pretty” or “ugly” becomes irrelevant. Keimi points out that if it exists, it is perfect. I appreciate Keimi explaining that “practicing body neutrality allows us to feel more at peace and at home with our bodies without an expectation. We will love the way our body looks and it can help us be more accepting of ourselves and other people.” Each of us is a unique being.

3. Exploring Maps with Our Bodies

with Kay Slater

This episode mentions the word ‘representation’. In this episode, Kay simplifies different parts of their body. Kay also imagines what kind of pose or movement the body can do. By mapping the pose of the body, Kay creates a simplified representation of themselves. Kay provides guidelines for drawing body parts. It is okay for us to create an image of our own bodies. It might not be okay to draw and represent other people unless “you have permission and you talk to each other because communication and consent are important". This is necessary to be aware of because it can help us to eliminate our bias or stereotypes of people we thought we knew.

4. Exploring Shadows in Self-Portraits

with Alyssa Martens

Alyssa shows us how our body can look different in the shadows. Without details, the shadows can leave space for our imagination to grow and show us the possibilities of who or what we can be. Playing with our shadows outside also allows us to re/imagine our relations to our surroundings in an unusual way. 

5. Exploring Copying with Respect

with Kay Slater

Kay explains that copying is not necessarily a bad thing. It is always important to acknowledge the author and show respect. Kay shows us the painting, Forest, British Columbia by Emily Carr, and paints a new image based on it. As such, we may also see the forest different and paint it in our own way. However, if you find it difficult to be creative and authentic in the process of “copying” Emily Carr’s work, you might be able to find answers in the next episode I recommend.

6. Exploring the Finding and Copying of Textures

with Kay Slater

Kay takes us outside to explore natural materials. They show us ways of observing the natural materials and paying attention to the textures of them. After, Kay goes back to the studio and traces the outline of twigs. This is a way of copying. After Kay traces the outline, they start to draw the details in their own way by selecting their preferred textures of the twig that they want to depict. This is a way we can remain authentic while drawing inspiration.

7. Exploring the Same but Different

with Kay Slater

In the final episode, Kay shows us how to trace an image by using a lightbox. They choose an illustration by Sir John Tenniel who drew the Alice in Wonderland illustrations in the 1920s. Again, it is important to give credit to the author you are learning from. At the beginning of this episode, Kay stated that tracing can be the start of an idea or an exploration. We do not have to copy the illustration 100%. If you watch this episode, you will notice that Kay only traced the main character in that illustration. Then, they started to improvise by creating different stories and scenes for that character. I really appreciate how Kay showed us how to be authentic and creative when copying something. It is such a great way of learning from other artists! 

Interested in more opportunities to explore ourselves? We are accepting applications to host our upcoming exhibition, ‘PIP’. This exhibition explores themes of self-acceptance and recognizing what makes us all different. Schools in the Lower Mainland can apply by October 14

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