We are two immigrant women, Shabnam Afrand (Iran) and Ana Gabriela Lopez Castro (Mexico), Toronto-based multidisciplinary artists and enthusiastic dreamers, inspired by the work of Muse Arts work, we as well want to share our knowledge and love with the community where we live.
“Emotionart” was created in 2019, and the name we gave it is because we believe that emotions move us to create arts and build or rebuild better communities. Initially, our goal was to focus on working with senior residents at Toronto Community Housing buildings on the East End.
Why do we focus on the seniors? Because I, (Ana) have noticed after 8 years of living in this area, in a housing building, many of them live alone and on some occasions sadly I have found out that some of them have passed away alone in their homes. This was the main reason to create a space where we can check on them, and rebuild our community, reconnecting with each other, while we are all creating art in an inclusive and non-judgemental environment.
WHEN WE STARTED
Officially our first sessions started on January 27, 2020, with the support of the Toronto Arts Council through a community arts project. We keep building more spaces with the community.
The pandemic has made us adapt, evolve and change from in-person programming to online. We have to upgrade our skills and take some courses to learn the skills to deliver online programming. In the beginning, we used live streaming on Facebook, and posted videos on Instagram and on my personal Youtube Channel of AnaGabriela LopezCastro.
Initially, EmotionArt was created to open access to the arts, to Toronto Community Housing residents, (many of them are retired seniors, and families with low income), now expanding to intergenerational arts groups in East York in different locations outside Toronto Community Housing buildings, providing free visual arts programs to the general public, who is interested in build community through making art together.
DRAWCEMBER ONLINE PROJECT/ “24 DRAWINGS OF JOY”
In December as we were into another lockdown just before Christmas in 2020, and we want to keep connected, we made a video to invite the community in our building to participate in a drawing challenge called “24 Drawings of Joy or Drawcember” and we made some posters and stuck on the hallways. We wanted to cheep ur, connect with each other while we cannot physically be together. The main idea was to make a drawing every day for 24 days until Christmas, the list or theme created was about Holidays.
We have 24 videos on Youtube of the whole drawing challenge.
About 10 people sent us pictures of their drawings. Here are some examples of their fantastic work.
This project was fun and very enjoyable to keep creating while we were apart, we set an online- appointment every evening for 24 straight days at 6 pm. It was a very good challenge, to give the time and space to get together at home and build some discipline. Also, it helped us to learn to be present and work on our drawing skills. It is always challenging to draw things that we are not used to, but when we see our whole work put together at the end of the challenge is very satisfying.
Fantastical creatures: alebrijes workshop
Between June 3 and July 29 2021, we delivered another online program focusing on the making of fantastical creatures called “alebrijes”, and we had a very good response from participants.
Muse Arts helped us to expand our outreach to a Latinx women and seniors community. We have good responses and excellent works from Latinx women.
We were gathering for 8 weeks via Zoom, every Thursday in the evenings, and we created a very exciting and happy space for creating art together. We built new friendships and relationships, and they created amazing alebrijes. Here are some of their works.
More alebrijes workshops are coming June 2022!! thanks to the support of the Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council.
We are very excited that we are bringing more art programs to more locations from Toronto Community Housing. STAY TUNED!!!