Drawing to See: Empathy Workshop

After weeks of planning and discussing how i'll go about hosting my empathy workshop, what a moment it was to finally be standing in front of my participants as I hosted it.

I held the Drawing To See: Empathy Workshop at ITP on a Thursday evening. It was held in a room with 6 people, mostly ITP students.

We began by each writing 15 facts about someone we personally know very well, and someone that is pretty different from everyone in the room.

We then created playlists of about 10 songs that best represented the person.

We exchanged our playlists and facts with someone else and then grabbed a large poster sheet of paper and crayons. We spent about an hour creating portraits based on the facts and music we received.

When we finished, we put up our portraits and had a mini art show. Everyone was able to view each other's portraits and read the facts that inspired them.

We wrapped up the workshop with a reflection, discussion and critique. This part of the workshop was one of the most insightful parts for me as it allowed me to learn how others might perceive the activity and how to go about it in the future. I've attached the recording of our discussion, below:

Takeaways from this workshop from participants:

-For one person, it felt like the playlist gave more of a description of the person than the facts

-Using crayons made it more about a depiction of "what could be" in a way. It feels more optimistic since we have so many colors.

-Having the big selection of colors in the crayons made the participants more inclined to make use of all the colors

-Using the crayons felt "juvenile" in a way, but not in a bad way. At times, it felt "freeing"

-maybe at each of our cores, what hurts us the deepest is what unites us. So, maybe using those type of facts in our prompts makes it easier for people to relate

-it feels like a huge responsibility to draw a person. You want to respect the person and do them justice, which can be a lot of pressure (especially, if you don't know how to draw)

-maybe the pressure is magnified since you know the person youre creating is special to someone in the room

-maybe that pressure would be less if it were more people in the room or if the portraits were of people that had no relation to anyone in the room

-having written our own cards first, it made the entire experience much more personal. It was a good warm up in placing ourselves in our loved ones shoes, to then go and place ourselves in a stranger's shoes.

-it was a very therapeutic and connecting experience

-made me think about how many people I have a good enough relationship with to do this activity on? It made me question how I go about developing relationships with people

My Feedback for myself:

-it felt like this was too little time to allow for empathy to truly develop. And, because it was rushed it felt like it was more about following instructions from the facts to create the person

-maybe having more structure in the directions for making the facts would allow for more empathy. Like, having a certain amount of positive things about their life and a certain amount of negative things.

Exhibition Workshop Activity

Drawing Empathy

A workshop driven to put people in spaces that they aren’t familiar with but feel more connected with as they create its reality.

 

Agenda:

2:00 pm - People enter the space and are given huge 2.5 feet by 6ft sheets of paper. They are in a room of people of all backgrounds, so they are given time to converse with one another.

 

(The people of all different backgrounds are somehow represented in the prompts that will be given to each individual)

 

2:25pm - Prompts are given to each person as that is what their assignment is to draw. They are directed to start drawing from the eyes and end at the feet. As they move through each feature and part of the body, they are given more information about the person, their living conditions, their culture, their life experiences. They are given headphones to listen to sounds of the person’s culture.

 

 

 

Attempts:

 

With Christopher, a 25 year old Black Male from Washington, D.C. - I told him about a young Central Asian man in my school’s program. I gave him a simple background on him to start off with. And, as he progressed from his eyes to toes, I told him more information about the person - from his experience, tragedies he has faced in the time i’ve known him, significant moments in his life that I know about, etc. As he drew, I also played music from this person’s country.

 

His response to creating the drawing:

 

“I felt like the music was influencing how I perceived his features and skin tone. And knowing what you mentioned about him influenced the colors I used while creating him… It was more humanizing. The music gave me certain ideas about how the clothes could look…but knowing his story, his clothes looked pretty chill. I didn’t feel like I had to base his clothing on that (where he’s from)…It was cool to draw, I don’t really draw like that so it was cool to draw.

 

 

[How did it feel as a Black man drawing a portrait of a Central Asian Man?]

It was humanizing. Seeing this person that I drew to represent the actual person, I don’t see any bad preconceived notions…but he’s also not completely white so maybe that’s it. But even if he was, well, I know about about his story, so…

 

The colors [of his outfit] are just representations - interpretational labels.”

 

[What could have helped to have in this workshop?]

“Having visual cues, like pictures of the flag or of his country could have helped. Have more specific directions in how one is supposed to draw on the paper in order to fill the page.”

 

With Michael, a White American male pursuing his Master’s at NYU - I told him about a young Black American female. I gave him a simple background on him to start off with. And, as he progressed from his eyes to toes, I told him more information about the person - from her experiences, her passions, her health, her family, and significant moments in her life that I know about, etc. As he drew, I also gave him a playlist of music she listens to.

 

Creating a curriculum

Teaching Philosophy

In the way teaching is done, just as Professor Taeyoon explained in his second class of Teaching as Art, teachers are part salespeople. I believe that the excitement of course, begins with the way in which a teacher embodies the course within themselves. When I look back at my education experiences, I typically felt more excited about the course when the professor was very passionate about the course, themselves. Thus, I am interested in exploring in making each class it’s own brand. And creating the branding of each class so that students would be able to select from courses as if they were in a grocery store. 

Philosophy of Courses

Within each course, I wanted to create a hybrid of courses and blend in different possible skills that would be obtained upon completion. So, there are no purely “Math” or “History” courses. These courses are being taught, but in more practical and progressive ways.

Students would also embark on different tracks: Art/Design, Science, Language, etc. that they would be able to select every semester. These tracks would determine the nature of their final project for the course:

ART TRACK

[TECH] Internet Self Portrait: This course is a blend of creative coding, HTML, CSS, and self understanding. Students would create a website the portrays themselves.

[PHILOSOPHY] Philosophy of Entrepreneurship: Becoming aware of philosophy and behavior science is a great skill as one transitions into adulthood and interacts with many different type of people. Being able to use the understanding of how people operate, while creating a self-started business, is even more powerful. Students would use the skills they gathered within their tech and art courses, to further develop the prototype or branding of their prototype.

[ART] Meta Magazine: This is a visual arts course that allows students to create tangible and digital art, then use that same art to create more art - ending with a final product of a magazine. Students would also use the literature they created in their literature courses, to provide text for the magazine.

[SCIENCE] Food for the Soul: This course covers chemistry and health by studying how food interacts with the body. Students would then design a vending machine that would provide access to optimal health.

[MATH] Moneymatician: This course teaches algebra II as students learn about finances and how to best prepare themselves when embarking on loans for college, homes, businesses, etc. Students will end the course with a visual pamphlet that would teach their peers how to best manage their money as they enter adulthood.

[HISTORY/LANGUAGE] AfroKaleidoscope: This course allows for students to learn about the history and literature of the Black culture within the spectrum of different Black societies. Students would then collaborate to create a textbook based off of an album of a select artist.

[LANGUAGE] Latin Tree: This course allows for students to learn Latin that will then help them in understanding the roots of the English course. Students will then write a short play while using only latin.


Learning Objective

The learning objective is to create exciting and interesting atmospheres that cater’s to the students interests, while showing them different styles of application. The academics are not only based on interests of the students, but vital and practical skills that they will need as they progress into adulthood.

Learning Outcome

Students will become well rounded after having gathered an assortment of different skills within a few courses. Students will also build skills in learning how to apply their education to practical and artistic use.

Outcome Objective

The design of this education focuses on efficiency and progressiveness. This education style is meant to give students the fundamental skills to go above and beyond with their education. The “tracks” within the curriculum allows for students to use what they have learned and apply it in a way that they enjoy best, as their final. This creates for a consistently challenging but also exciting and rewarding learning atmosphere. The final projects are also meant to further nurture students true understanding of the course as they require additional learning, beyond what was learned in the classroom, to complete them.

Learning Style Map

Knowing the ways in which you learn best, is an incredible set of knowledge to have as education and careers advance. The trials and errors attempted as a student, serve as huge learning assets in assessing what ways will allow yourself to succeed the best. I elementary and middle school, academics were always relatively easy and held an exciting amount of challenge in that I knew that with some effort, everything could always be figured out. So, learning my learning styles at that point, never crossed my mind because my grades reflected my capability within a curriculum that didn’t force me to exert myself much. But, as I got older, things began to change. While in high school, I took great joy in making my notes look very eccentric and aesthetically pleasing. It was a great attempt at trying to making learning more enjoyable for myself, but I quickly realized that it was a poor attempt at retaining information. As I was handed back test grades that held scores I was disappointed with, I began to understand that too much energy was being exerted in how my notes looked, but not enough energy in how well I maneuvered retaining the information within my notes. This discovery lead me down a path of realization in paying more attention to focusing on the best ways that I learn. And as I focused on the way that I learned best, I was finally able to see my grades truly reflect my effort, whenever I would be academically challenged. While in college, I was introduced to the Myers-Briggs Personality Quiz. After learning about my personality type, I gained an incredible amount of insight in learning how I operate, and in what conditions I do my best and worst in. With this information, I was able feel more confident as a student of strategies when I would be academically challenged. Using the information i’ve gathered through the nearly 20 years of academia and the descriptions within my personality type, I was able to create my most accurate-to-date learning map.