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.