27.1.09

Wildflower Workshop (1/23/09) - by Jon

As P’Ben (our heroic driver) drove the CAP volunteers and staff down the dusty, unpaved, and sun-scorched road towards Wildflower Home, a refuge for single mothers and their children who have been cast out of their homes due to the cultural stigma attached to single motherhood in Thailand, I was struck by the sight of several men painting the gateway that frames the entrance to Wildflower a bright, vibrant, almost obnoxious blue. We seemed so far removed from the activity of Chiang Mai, so secluded – that such a loud, colorful statement appeared far from necessary. Yet “color” is what Wildflower house is all about; Defying and exceeding expectations, Elizabeth Thaibinh, Wildflower’s founder, has succeeded in creating a vibrant and supportive community for the dozens of women who call Wildflower home.

Like the gate, our workshop at Wildflower was all about color, and was designed both as a creative “release valve” from these women’s stressful lives, and as an opportunity to enliven the spaces in which they live, work, and dream. Utilizing a wide range of media, from hand-designed rubber stamps to acrylic paints, the women at Wildflower (with some often-messy input from their children) designed and decorated their own unique calico flags, and then hung them up in the walls of one of the center’s many open air buildings. In the process, their living space was dramatically transformed, and they were able to see their “feelings,” “things,” and “memories” (the themes of the workshop) emblazoned on the walls of this temporary home.

By allowing them a space in which to articulate their own unique creative voices, I hope we’ve helped these women turn Wildflower into something resembling a “home.” As long as Thai stigmas against single motherhood persist, Wildflower will continue to open its doors, welcoming mothers and children into this impromptu community of empowerment and friendship. It’s the least we can do to make our own small—if colorful—contribution.

If you’d like to volunteer your time or money to this worthwhile cause, just visit the Wildflower website:

http://www.wildflowerhome.net/code/job.php

~Jon

26.1.09

Unveiling Mural & Sign to Baan Piranan - by Chrissy Foreman Cranitch



Hi all!
Sadly today is my last day in Chiang Mai volunteering for CCT, before I jetset back to Oz this afternoon :( But life still goes here in CCT land, so here's the low-down on the last few days with Baan Piranan ...
The mural we worked on with the boys from Baan Piranan (BP) came together beautifully ~ as did the mural inspired signage, which we had printed up for the BP front gate.
On Friday we delivered the finished products to BP ... I think these pictures speak for themselves!
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21.1.09

CLC workshops - by Jon

Hello from Chiang Mai! I'm Jon Lohse, one of the CAP volunteers here at CCT. One of the projects I've been working on while in Chiang Mai is a series of art workshops with Wat Pa Pao and the Children's Learning Center constructing and decorating "model houses" [read: Vickie's post below], incorporating elements of torn paper mosaic, collage, and origami into a "community-building" experience for the students at these two schools.

One of the most pressing issues facing the Burmese Migrant community in Chiang Mai is "space" -- or rather, a lack of it. Burmese migrants are mostly sequestered in construction camps, living and working in improvised communities of shacks and lean-to's. Forced out of their home country by political strife and poor living conditions, these families live in Chiang Mai as outsiders; unable to call Thailand "home," (both legally and culturally) and unable to return to Burma for reasons political and economic. In this workshop, the students were able to create their own imaginative "spaces," allowing them to explore and articulate their dreams, frustrations, and desires in relation to their social and geographic communities.

At CLC, we ran essentially the same workshop as at Wat Pa Pao the day before. However, the students at CLC surprised us by spontaneously arranging their houses into impromptu villages, extending the overarching metaphor of the day from "home" to "community," and offering the entire group an opportunity to negotiate issues of personal space, communal space, and community integration. It was fascinating to watch the kids place their houses side-by-side at first, returning to the "village" every few minutes to re-arrange it. In the process, a big clump of houses was transformed into a sophisticated urban space, cris-crossed with streets and dotted with carefully demarcated groupings of houses.

As we packed up after the workshop, I was struck by the simplicity of the students' enjoyment of the day. More than just an opportunity to "build community," the workshop also seemed to give the kids at CLC something more profound: an opportunity to make something beautiful and call it their own. Even in uncomfortable, stressful, and uncertain conditions, creativity truly is the most valuable -- and most easily dismissed -- part of the human experience.

-Jon

Leaf Mural with Baan Piranan - by Chrissy


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Hi all,
Yesterday the Canvas Art program crew went out to visit Baan Piranan, resident home for children with Cerebral Palsy.
The objective of the workshop was to work with the 3 boys at the home painting and stenciling onto lightweight wooden leaf shapes. These hand-painted leaves will be used to become the focal element of a mural created by us volunteers, specifically for uplifting the space inside Baan Piranan.

We decided to create the mural onto a large canvas - with two trees bordering the right and left sides of the canvas. The boys' leaves were then glued onto the tree tops to create the canopy. Today we will outline and seal the artwork, photograph it, and collage some of photographs of the boys in the section between the trees. The photograph we take, after the mural is sealed, will be used to form the basis of a vinyl printed sign for the front entrance of the centre.

We'll be sure to keep y'all up to date with pics of the finished product. Chow!

15.1.09

Wat Pa Pao - By Vickie

Hi I'm Vickie! I'm a volunteer with Cultural Canvas Thailand's Canvas Art Program. The last two weeks, working with CAP, has been the most amazing time of my life. Thailand is a beautiful country and the people here are even more beautiful.
Today myself and two other volunteers conducted a workshop at Wat Pa Pao, a school for Burmese refugee children. There were 60 children and all were so excited to see us arrive.
For today's workshop the children had the opportunity to express their creativity by making a model home using all types of bright colored papers, photos and other media. Seeing the pleasure each child took in gluing and coloring the images of their homes is priceless memory.
As we drove off in our van the children followed behind smiling and waving good-bye. All saying in Thai "come back again tomorrow."

13.1.09

Baan Piranan workshop - Introducing Paint - by Chrissy Foreman C


Hi all,

My name is Chrissy Foreman C and I'm volunteering with Cultural Canvas Thailand (CCT) within their Canvas Art Program (CAP).

Back at home I work as a community artist for schools, government organsations, community centres, disability services etc etc.

One of my tasks with CCT so far has been to help introduce a new art program at a place called Baan Piranan, which is a small organisation staffed by 1 amazing woman, who cares for with 3 children with Cerebral Palsy. All 3 boys have been relocated to the Baan Piranan (BP) respite centre due to a disadvantaged start to their first 12 years of life. These boys are the lucky ones, and there are countless others who may never get such an opportunity in their lives.

Places like Baan Piranan are few and far between here in Thailand, as there is little education about the disease, no schools for these children, and very few services offered for people with a disability such as Cerebral Palsy (CP). In fact, many people would not feel safe to come into contact with someone who has CP in case they 'catch' it.

So on the upside, my job was to devise a session plan to introduce paint to the boys at BP for the very first time in their lives.

The session basically consist of introducing paintbrushes, paint, rollers and paper to the 3 boys, and adapting the art tools as required so that the boys can grasp them effectively (as people with CP can have less muscle control) . For example, one boy has been lying in a bamboo cage his whole life and therefore only now learning to sit up by himself without support, so he required hands on support to undertake the activity.

Overall it was a wonderful experience. The boys' eyes lit up when they could see the concept of splashing colour across a previously blank space to create something new. All 3 of them really 'got into it', and we're already planning a second workshop next week to involve the boys in a mural for the BP centre. Will keep you posted!