Six Month Community Collage Project Begun at Affirmations

Six Month Community Collage Project Begun at Affirmations

(Crystal A. Proxmire, orig. published Between the Lines, Ferndale 115 News March 15, 2012 ed)

Affirmations will be full of art and love this spring and summer, with a six month community art project called Arts & Advocacy: Out 4 Equality Collage Workshops.  From now until August adults and youth will be able to talk about LGBT issues while also taking part in a massive collective art project that will be featured at Affirmations in the fall, and also possibly go on tour.

The masterminds behind Out 4 Equality Collage are Affirmations Program Coordinator Megh Hollowell and her partner Karainne Spens-Hanna.  Spens-Hanna is an artist by profession, whose work has been shown at Re:View Gallery, Art Prize, and in the Body Eclectic showing at Lawrence Street Gallery.  She is also on the verge of completing her bachelor’s degree from College for Creative Studies in Detroit, with a minor in art therapy.

She and Hollowell started the project with the help of Program Director Johnny Jenkins as a way to “make change, raise awareness and bring people together to express what we are going through.” She hopes the experience will connect people of all ages, including allies.

“Art is important because it’s about bridging gaps between what people are feeling and what they’re making.  It’s a cognitive process that paves the way for more openness and understanding,” Spens-Hanna said.  She hopes there will be a lot of family involvement, and says some days will have themes just for the youngsters.  “I want to have a day where kids will make art about what love is to them,” she said. “Kids are so uninhibited and I love that.  They’re not afraid of it looking bad.  It’s beautiful to see.”

The first Out 4 Equality Collage Workshop was held Saturday, March 10 with the focus of equal marriage and workplace protections.  The plan is to have art days each month through the spring and summer, and then in the fall Spens-Hanna will fill the Pittman-Puckett Art Gallery with a massive instillation of the collected works. 

Jennifer Shear of Ferndale brought her eight-year-old son Peyton to the workshop.  Peyton painted a picture of his favorite dog Sadie.  Jennifer made a collage representing a marriage between two males using a large letter “m” that used to be on a marquee or sign of some sort, a pit of plastic plumbing and a paisley cut from wallpaper fabric.  “I like to hint at things and let people use their own imagination,” she said.

The workshop also help Florida-native Nitin Jalan get his first introduction to the community center.  “I moved to Bloomfield Hills from Florida four months ago, and I wanted to find something where I could come out and meet people.  I like that this brings people together with the same idea and helps spread it,” he said.

So far about a dozen people have participated, and the project is growing quickly.  The workshop is free to attend, and organizers are hoping for people to donate items.

“We’re using a lot of found objects and trying to be more artsy than craftsy,” said Hollowell, who said she isn’t fond of glitter and feathers, but prefers the old calendars, fabric, magazines, industrial bits and pieces, buttons, ribbons and other re-purposed items they’ve collected for the project. Art supply donations are appreciated, and may be dropped off at Affirmations.

Along with the collage, Hollowell is working on Out 4 Equality Open Mic, an effort to give “all slam poets, poets, writers, musicians, comedians, and rappers” a voice.  The monthly series is free for youth age 13-20, and a $5 suggested donation for those 21 and up.

Find out the latest dates on these events at www.goaffirmations.org.

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