“Finding ‘a place of your own’ demands much self-reflection. It’s not just a matter of asking what you want, but rather letting go of external influences and discovering what remains.”
Nancy Hom, San Francisco Artist and Activist
Over the past six months fine artist Cynthia Tom and Trinity Ordona, Ph.D. of City College of San Francisco’s Healing for Change Center, have collaborated with the Asian American Women Artists Association and the Asian Women’s Shelter to offer A Place of Her Own, a unique arts & healing program for Asian-Pacific American women in social services. As the program syllabus explains, almost all of the family support and social services in the Asian-Pacific American community are provided by Asian-Pacific American women. These women service providers are at serious risk of burn-out because of the silencing and submissive cultural behaviors that are “expected” of Asian-Pacific American women. It is culturally taboo for Asian-Pacific American women to seek help for depression.
Cynthia Tom and Trinity Ordona have designed A Place of Her Own to build personal strength and clarity from the inside out by combining meditation techniques with creative art modalities that relieve stress and heal burnout. The participants study the chakras and meditation techniques, participate in discussions, do written exercises, and are asked to create art works in response to the questions “If you had a place of your own, what would it be? What kind of space would fully express your imagination and values?”
The exercises help the participants clarify their own aspirations and address individual, family and cultural patterns of dysfunction in a supportive environment. No arts background is required since the art works are usually created from found objects, and skilled artists are on hand to guide any participants who need assistance. The long term goal of this project is to generate a sense of community and creative space for women to reconnect with themselves, reverse patterns of trauma and make their hopes and dreams visible.
The art works of the Fall 2014 participants will be shown in an Open House on Thursday, February 26, 2015 from 6 – 9 p.m. at 1890 Bryant Street, 302 Gallery in San Francisco. There will also be a talk by the artists on Saturday, March 21 from 1 – 4 p.m. at the same location. There is a suggested donation of $10 – $25 for both events, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.
Since 2009, 60 women have participated in A Place of Her Own and their work has been featured in thought-provoking exhibitions at the de Young Museum, Driftwood Salon Gallery and SOMarts Cultural Center. To see samples of the works created for these exhibits, please visit the links for past exhibitions on AAWAA’s page about A Place of Her Own.