Red Dot Foundation facilitated a series of workshops in partnership with the German Consulate General Mumbai and Mosaics & Circles for transforming experiences of gender-based violence into visual arts.
The aim of this workshop series was to
- Help survivors break their silence around their experiences of sexual violence.
- Create stories through visual arts that will make it easier to absorb the information.
- Use visual arts as a therapeutic self-care routine to break the silence, find solidarity and provide an avenue to seek help.
- Create a resource that can be used by survivors and others for prevention and response to sexual violence.
15 young people from universities in Western India (Maharashtra, the Union States of Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Goa, Madhya Pradesh and the Union Territories of Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli) participated in the workshops. 4 workshops of three hours each covered the following curriculum with self-practice exercises and prompts in between each workshop. The workshops were held on 2, 3, 16, 17 September 2021. Over the course of the four sessions, participants were able to creatively express themselves through the medium of art and become a part of a safe space of empathetic listeners. They were able to break their silence and speak about their experiences of sexual harassment with the facilitators’ help in the sharing circle.
Day 1: Start Where You Are
We always started our sessions with breathing and grounding exercises leading up to a safe space to have open conversations on gender and safety. We spoke about storytelling through our bodies: expressing ourselves visually through hands, feet and dancing movements; synchronizing our thoughts and body in a motion that brings about a feeling of freedom and confidence.
Day 2: Hello, Inner Story
We discussed gender safety in India and opened dialogue on our personal stories on safety and stereotypes that have proved challenging. The participants were guided on finding their puzzle pieces: naming and describing their stories and drawing or sketching them on paper.
Day 3: Lifting Our Voices
! In the Midst of the Storm: Revisiting challenges and fears to give a different narrative to them! Towards the Future: Creating space for our stories and speaking what’s not okay; Building the muscle to be an ally.
Day 4: Dear Present Self. A Letter from the Future!
The participants were guided to delve deeper into themselves, their strengths, weaknesses, desires and aspirations through the Tree of Life. They were to use the medium of drawing to highlight personal values, strengths, weaknesses and things to work on! This being the last session everyone wrote a letter to themselves. We wrote a letter to our “future selves” from our present self; forgiving our past self; going out into the world and conquering it! And finally, everyone shared their drawings whilst the group silently expressed their feelings in the chatbox.
Every session was closed with an hour of optional networking space where one of the facilitators would stay to talk to the participants.
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