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.