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Connection Presentation Reflection

Great event at Seekonk Public Library

I had a great time presenting The Community Circle Project at the Seekonk Public Library on April 28, thanks to funding from the Seekonk Cultural Council. Also, thank you to The Seekonk Reporter for featuring me and the project on the April cover.

Families and adults were invited to participate in two virtual evening sessions. We took time to reflect on kindness, talked about its meaning to each of us on a personal level and considered ways we could show kindness to ourselves as well as to others.

A few of the circles we made during the art engagement are included here above and below.

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Connection Presentation Uncategorized

Seekonk Public Library multigenerational event

I am so excited to share that the Seekonk Cultural Council and the Massachusetts Cultural Council have awarded me a grant to facilitate The Community Circle Project at the invitation of host  Seekonk Public Library in Massachusetts. The free virtual event will be on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. There will be two sessions, one for families and children at 5 p.m., and one for adults at 6:30 p.m.

The program will be held virtually via Zoom and is open to adults and families with children of all ages.

Participants in both sessions will engage in the relaxing project that I created that uses art making and conversation to build a sense of community. Using the simple shape of a circle and basic drawing supplies, we will create art that reflects our thoughts or feelings and shows us how we are connected to each other.

No art experience is necessary. Registration is required. Space is limited. All are welcome. I would love to see you there.

I am so thankful to the Seekonk Public Library for hosting this event and to the Seekonk Cultural Council and the Massachusetts Cultural Council for providing funding for the program. I want to especially thank Sharon Clarke (librarian, youth services) and Michelle Gario (senior librarian, adult services) for inviting me.

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Presentation Remote learning Uncategorized

Family Paint Night

I continue to be so grateful for the opportunity to help create connections all over the country through The Community Circle Project. Friday evening, on February 26, it was my honor do this as the guest artist at “Paint Night: Your Family is a Work of Art.”

The virtual night of family art making was made possible by the generous support of a grant from the Foundation for West Hartford Public Schools and the Office of Equity Advancement.

There are so many challenges in the world but, luckily, there are so many good people focused on positivity and connection. That long list includes the folks who made the paint night possible and  successful: Penelope Drown, a visual arts teacher at Charter Oak International Academy in West Hartford, Conn.; Pamela Murphy, visual arts supervisor for the district of West Hartford; and Timothy Kessler, secondary remote learning principal for the West Connecticut Public Schools.

Penelope first learned about The Community Circle Project from Nasco Education (where I facilitated the project during a Maker Monday event at the invitation of the wonderful Kris Bakke, customer engagement manager at Nasco Education). Penelope reached out to me to find out more, and that interaction led to my guest artist presentation during the Family Paint Night series.

It was so inspiring to work with Penelope, Pam and Tim. Their professionalism and passion for supporting families is truly impressive. I was touched to be virtually invited into the homes of nearly 30 families to engage in creativity and work on circles that highlight what family members value most.

Families are, indeed, a work of art. They are portraits of the past, the present and the dreams for the future. Families shape the world generation after generation with the choices made and the values that are passed forward. In that way, we are all a part of a global family.

During my presentation, I shared a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. that perfectly expresses this idea (imagine the world if we all lived these words):

“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.”

 

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Remote learning

North Carolina students share their views on COVID-19

Dawn Louis-Jean, an art teacher at Ascend Leadership Academy in Sanford, N.C., teaches students in grades six through 12. At the start of the school year, she used The Community Circle Project as one of the first assignments.

“We are doing all virtual learning, so their whole lives have changed from last year. I wanted to let them talk about how Covid-19 has impacted and, perhaps, permanently changed their lives,” she said.

Students were given a supply list for the project and parents purchased supplies on their own. Fifty students created these amazing circles.

A big thank-you to Dawn and her students for sharing their thoughts through creativity.

 

 

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Remote learning

Kelly Betz uses circles to connect during virtual class

This summer Kelly Betz, an art educator in the Glenwood Elementary School District of Greenfield, used the Community Circle Project during the district’s Virtual Summer School Program in Wisconsin. In the “Art Studio” she taught Betz engaged 25 students in grades three through six, ages  7 to 11, in creating circles.

She shared two circles here made by sixth grader Piper Schick and fourth grader Maddix Malkovich.

Decorative circle
By Piper Schick
Decorative circle
By Maddix Malkovich

“Due to the nature of virtual learning, connecting can be a struggle—especially in the case of my program, which had students from around the district whom I never met,” said Betz. “As a way to get to know the students, I gave them the prompt to create a circle about themselves our first day.”

Students we asked to create a self-portrait or favorite place in the center of the circle and then symbols about themselves along the outside rings. They could use as many symbols, patterns and designs as desired and whatever materials they wanted. 

“What drew me to using the Community Circle Project is that it has so many possibilities for what can be created and how learners can interpreted the idea,” Betz said. “Just the idea of a portrait and symbols gave such an amazing range of results and led to discussions about their symbols and why they picked them. It was beneficial in creating a connection between myself and these students whom I never met face to face.

“I became more than just a face on a screen telling them what to do; I became someone they could ask questions of and talk to about their day as we drew together. It created community and trust during our short time ‘together,’ which is extremely important with creating.”

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Teacher Anne Hoffman’s classes create circles

When students started school this fall since the mid-March break due to the pandemic, Anne Hoffman, a teacher at Wood Oaks Junior High, in Northbrook, Illinois, used The Community Circle Project to help build a sense of connection and unity among her sixth and eighth grade classes and beyond. 

“I engaged students in a discussion about all the events that we have been experiencing and/or seeing in the news. It was quite a powerful experience for everyone to see it all as a whole, which at first was quite overwhelming. As we continued our discussion, however, we were able to see that there was indeed a lot of good that we could squeeze out from all of the crises. I was so impressed how each student gave such deep thought to what positive they could take away from what has been going on.”

Right before holiday break, Anne offered students the choice of two prompts that were perfect: “What does this upcoming holiday season mean to you?” “What is your hope/vision for the new year?”

Here are some of the wonderful results from all the prompts.

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Inspired by circle interpretations

Mandala
Abby Rovaldi

I am so inspired by the circles that people are sharing with me in response to the prompt: What are you learning during this challenging time?

When I created The Community Circle Project I shared my particular approach for making circles that incorporate words and designs. As more and more people participate in the ongoing collaboration, so much creativity and talent is coming forth. And it warms my heart.

The circle above, a mandala, is a recent one from Abby Rovaldi, who is the programs coordinator at the Attleboro Arts Museum in Massachusetts, an amazing artist, art educator and awesome human. I love, love, love her mandala and I’m honored that she has participated.

If you want to participate, please reach out to me using the contact form on this website.