The birthday card, 1942.

A family treasure:  

Birthday card sent to my father in Sarpsborg, Norway, from my grandfather, Gunnar Thorsen, and fellow Norwegian soldiers (in German concentration camp) for my father’s 12th birthday Aug 8, 1942.

GUNNAR THORSEN

1897-1970

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  After graduation from school my Dad decided to join the army.  Thereafter he ended up in the Norwegian Air Force where he quickly climbed to lieutenant.  First he was stationed at Kjeller Airfield outside Oslo.

Not many knew that Gunnar was such a tough guy but there were many times he scared people by his authoritarian exterior.  But he was always good to his family.  He was my hero, even though sometimes he scared me too with his tough attitude.

– Roar Thorsen

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Father, son, grandson Christmas 1958
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Gunnar (dad’s dad), my mom with my brother, Ruth (dad’s mom), Stina (mom’s mom), Axel (mom’s dad)
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Gunnar and his grandson 1958
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Ruth and her grandson

 

What the sock pigs taught me…

This past Sunday morning- hanging out on Vancouver Island, my 4 friends and I had a hankering to create sock pigs.  There is such magic in sitting around the dining room table at my friends’ house, surrounded by crafting supplies creating.  We laugh, we go deep, we eat, we drink coffee, we share time.  It is a SAFE SPACE.

But why the sock pig specifically this time?

I am a big fan of looking at symbolism.  It’s such a fun instigator of self-reflection.

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The Pig Spirit Animal also symbolizes your ability to stand on your own two feet, weather the storm and come out even better than before. Pig does not allow for self-righteousness, but rather a quiet self-awareness that taps into ingenuity so you can turn on a dime without falling over.

When Pig roots around in your soul, it can be a sign that NOW is the time to move forward! Pigs never root while moving backwards – only forward. They have a nose for opportunity. Make the most of the landscape in front of you. If it is not yielding the nourishment you desire, move on – find another patch of ground to explore.  [SOURCE]

Yes- MOVE FORWARD.

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Rathtrevor Beach, Parksville, BC April 2, 2017 (Photo by Merv Glip)

Dedicated to Beverley, Sue, Darcy and N. <3

Related:

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President’s Dream Colloquium on Returning to the Teachings: Justice, Identity and Belonging sfu.ca

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Photos by Rick Magnell: Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society Art Camp, Riske Creek/ Williams Lake Summer 2016. See: LINK

From President’s Dream Colloquium on Returning to the Teachings: Justice, Identity and Belonging:

“Justice, identity and belonging are central indicators of health and well-being. Founded on the ideal of a pluralistic society, Canada faces significant equity challenges in upholding the health and well-being of a diverse range of social groups.

This is particularly true for First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples, who face disproportionate challenges within Canada’s education, health, economic, environmental and justice systems. These institutional pillars tragically have failed to serve the Indigenous Peoples of this land, for by holding up the State, the strength of these institutional pillars has weakened the cultural and relational roots of ancient worldviews, wisdoms and traditional societies.

Through ceremony, public lectures and dialogue, this President’s Dream Colloquium will cultivate an ecology for “a new way forward.” The intention is to create a rich experience of knowledge mobilization, diverse community engagement and capacity building for a new vision. The colloquium is born out of our right to dream for the rights of future generations, and for us to reimagine and enact a new reality for them.

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Confirmed Speakers

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Check out Vancouver Sun:

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Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, O.B.C. is a hereditary chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation near Alert Bay and a co-founder of Reconciliation Canada. HANDOUT/ PNG

“As a young man, Robert Joseph, one of the hereditary chiefs of the Gwawaenuk First Nation near Alert Bay, found himself in the depths of despair — until an epiphany changed his life. Today, he is a noted First Nations leader who co-founded Reconciliation Canada…” Read more: VANCOUVER SUN

 

Williams Lake/ Punky Lake Summer 2016 Art Camp Diary- Part 6: the photographer

Recall:

Preview

Part 1: Preparation

Part 2: Travel

Part 3: Art Camp Day 1 

Part 4: Art Camp Day 2

Part 5: Art Camp Day 3

Part 6: Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society Summer 2016 Art Camp- the photographer

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What a treat it was to be joined by photographer Rick Magnell of Magnell Photography on Days 1 and 3!

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Rick Magnell.  Photo by Jana Roller

Contact: rmagnell@me.com

As this is a wheatpaste project developed from my initial obsession (that began in 2012) with the street artist JR…

I knew the Punky Lake project had to include photo portraits.  Rick was THE PERFECT PHOTOGRAPHER for this purpose!  He not only has a profound gift for the visual but also a demeanour that makes even the shyest participant at ease in front of the camera!

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He also has an ability to go with the flow!  It was only Day 1 and we were all just getting to know each other, but Rick managed to take EXTRAORDINARY portraits of the participants and support staff.  I am BLOWN AWAY by the beauty of these faces as captured by Rick.

I will let Rick explain:

Sarah Jackman from The Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society offered me the opportunity to photograph the Journey and Mind Mapping Art Camp with Kat Thorsen. My first task was to head out to the Old Training and Recreation Complex in Riske Creek and take portraits of all the youth and adults involved in the camp and have 8×10 prints made. The prints would then be cut out and become part of the mural project with in the gymnasium. Once I got there Kat had already got the group to all sketch pictures of raccoons and after lunch started teaching the group how to sketch anatomical hearts. These would all get incorporated in to the mural. Everyone was great, of course you get the few shy ones but we managed to get them in front of the camera.” – Rick Magnell

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Day 3 was where I brought out the 8×10’s to be wheatpasted on the mural and documented the rest of the day. The day concluded with a closing circle where everyone shared their thoughts about the art camp. Two of the youth were presented drums along with Kat who received a drum herself as thanks. Elder Gary finished the circle with a drumming song. Gary has some incredible stories, I did approach him to see if he would be interested in my Story project. Overall it was a great group and a great experience for myself to photograph. I appreciate the opportunity and it was great to meet Kat and everyone else involved in the project.” – Rick Magnell

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… the power of paper and glue… – JR

Thank you Rick for making the art camp extra-special!  I look forward to drawing all the participants from your photos! 

 

I want to thank and acknowledge the Toosey (Tl’esqox) and Tsihquot’in First Nations, Old School Training and Recreation Complex and Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society (Sarah Jackman, Samantha Dick, Bruce Baptiste, Ann Guichon) for hosting the Summer 2016 Art Camp. I also want to thank and acknowledge the elders, the chef, the photographer, the chaperones, youth workers and the participants!

Check out:

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Williams Lake/ Punky Lake Summer 2016 Diary- Part 5: Day 3 Celebration 

Recall:

Preview

Part 1: Preparation

Part 2: Travel

Part 3: Art Camp Day 1 

Part 4: Art Camp Day 2

Part 5: Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society Summer 2016 Art Camp Day 3- Celebration

Photo by Rick Magnell

 




Sitting here in my lovely hotel room organizing supplies and reflecting on this week…


It was the final day of the art camp today.  It was Punky Lake Wilderness Campy Society’s first ever art camp and I could not be more honored to have been able to facilitate it for the past three days.

We started the day with a beautiful OWL story and song from Elder Gary- speaking of our need to LISTEN and LEARN from animals for they are hurting too.  He spoke of animals, in particular owls as messengers.   I then led an owl drawing session- I loved that youth and adults alike dove right in using the techniques I have been sharing with them for the past couple of days!  FAST and VORACIOUS learners!

A team of students then pasted the rest of the drawings (wheatpasting is delicious fun!).  We were joined by photographer Rick Magnell who delivered print outs of his extraordinary portraits of the participants (blog post on Rick and his photography next week).

We pasted the photos in the midst of all the beautiful drawings and after a lovely lunch, spent time in circle reflecting and thanking each other.


I was gifted a most beautiful drum that I will cherish for the rest of my life.  There are no words to suffice to describe its beauty.


Elder Gary who shared so many empowering prayers, stories and songs this week infused my drum with his healing energy:

I have fallen in love with these beautiful people, their hearts, minds, spirits, traditions- in love with the stunning Chilcotin landscape on which we created so much art work and made so many lovely connections and new friendships.

I look forward to gifting them all with hand drawn portraits. <3

I want to thank and acknowledge the Toosey (Tl’esqox) and Tsihquot’in First Nations, Old School Training and Recreation Complex and Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society (Sarah Jackman, Samantha Dick, Bruce Baptiste, Ann Guichon) for hosting the Summer 2016 Art Camp. I also want to thank and acknowledge the chef, the photographer, the chaperones, youth workers and the participants!

Latest Inside Out Project prep at Intersections Media, Vancouver (March 2019)

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The objects are the context from which I draw clues.

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What happens when a case is very old, when much of its physical evidence is deteriorated or destroyed, and its main players long deceased?  How do we investigate?

For me it is all about the historical context.

When I work on Molly, I step into the 1940’s through books, research, primary sources.  And I do it through collecting vintage items.

The objects are the context from which I draw clues.

Now how I find these objects is a magical process.  Yes, I visit my favorite places like Salmagundi West in Gastown or Village Antique Mall in Fort Langley, but the objects themselves seem to choose me.

Can that be?

Do they hold clues?

Are they trying to tell me something?

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Photos by Julian Bowers

The distinction between life and lifeless is a human construct. Every atom in this body existed before organic life emerged 4000 million years ago. Remember our childhood as minerals, as lava, as rocks? Rocks contain the potentiality to weave themselves into such stuff as this. We are the rocks dancing. Why do we look down on them with such a condescending air? It is they that are an immortal part of us.

JOHN SEED, Thinking Like a Mountain

INSIDE OUT PROJECT- breaking the cycle of violence through creativity: Activities Report Summer 2015

Inside Out Project Summer 2015 was made possible by a generous grant from the Province of British Columbia – Ministry of Justice: Victim Services and Crime Prevention  Division

INSIDE OUT PROJECT- OWN YOUR JOURNEY: breaking the cycle of violence through creativity Activities Report

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Location: Mountainside Secondary School, North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Instructors:

Ian Powell: photography, digital media

Kat Thorsen: therapeutic art

Erin Ross: animation

The Inside Out Project Summer 2015 was a three-week intensive arts-based program for youth ages 13-20. Using therapeutic art, photography and stop motion animation participants were taught skills in self-empowerment, peer-to-peer interaction, and how to make healthy, non-violent choices. The goal for the Inside Out Project was to help youth-at-risk address the root causes of violence (with a special focus on violence against women) through creative expression.

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Arts-based prevention programs allow for alternative experiences of what life can be like, helping at-risk students discover their own talents and creative energy and providing opportunities to develop their inner resources and explore new options for the future. Using a rich and creative curriculum around the themes of violence prevention, self-actualization, empowerment and creativity– facilitators of the Inside Out Project encourage participants to own their journeys.

The Inside Out Project engages participants with the arts, allowing for successful experiences on which to build the resilience and psychological hardiness as well as providing tools to be able to better meet personal and community challenges and to make healthy, non-violent choices.

Between July 6 and July 24, 2015, 11 participants completed the three-week curriculum.

Week 1 Highlights

• Chalk Talk: How does violence affect how people live their lives?

Photography introduction

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Vancouver Police Foundation Mounted Squad field trip

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• Art journals

• Discussion and reflection on Shane Koyczan’s Ted Talk: To this day- for the bullied and the beautiful.

• Animation introduction

Check out more about week 1:

Day 1

Day 2- VPD Horses

Day 3- animation and anatomical hearts

Day 4 and 5- digging deeper

Week 2 Highlights

• Journaling

• Public Service Announcement discussion

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• Project planning

• Animation project: Autobiography in Five Short Chapters by Portia Nelson (individual and group projects)

Week 3 Highlights

• Film interviews

• Craftivism: Operation Sock Monkey: “200 Sock Monkeys for Nepal” (benefitting KYT Foundation)

• Animation completion

• #BESTYOUth Emotional Intelligence Workshop (with guest facilitator, Laura Mack)

• Celebration

LIFE SKILLS addressed during the three-week curriculum included:

o Anxiety tools

o Emotional intelligence

o Self-reflection

o Motivation

o Journaling

o Behavioral pattern recognition

o Teamwork

o Chalk talk

o Peer to peer counseling

o Project planning

o Mind mapping

o Interview skills

o Creative process and expression.

CHALK TALK defined:

Three groups of 3-4 students work on three sheets of large paper, silently writing on the topic: how does violence affect how people live their lives? Each group moves at regular intervals to each of the three sheets- adding their thoughts and reflections on existing work. A large group discussion follows. The discussion and subsequent key points serve as a starting point for the final group video project around the theme of violence prevention.

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FINAL GROUP VIDEO PROJECT OUTLINE:

Title: Inside Out Project- Own Your Journey

Subtitle: Breaking the Cycle of Violence Through Creativity

Chalk Talk: footage and audio (participant interviews)

Participant Interview:

Like nothing mattered other than drugs. Honestly, I didn’t even care about myself. I didn’t care about what I did. I didn’t care about going to jail. I didn’t care about dying. I didn’t care about anything. I just cared about using. And that is not who I am. It’s crazy how different it made me, like, I don’t think I would recognize myself I saw myself on the street like that.

Animation compilation:

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(interpreting and animating the poem “Autobiography in five short chapters” by Portia Nelson, ©1993)

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I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk

I fall in.

I am lost … I am helpless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes me forever to find a way out.

II

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I am in the same place

but it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

III

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there.

I still fall in … it’s a habit.

My eyes are open

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

IV

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

V

I walk down another street.

Back to Central Interview:

Well, like, I guess when I’m being creative, it lets me let out all my emotions and like everything that I’m thinking, just like, let me be crazy on a page or whatever… and like when I used heroin it would, like, take it into me again. It wouldn’t let it out. It would just shove it back down and make me feel better that way. Instead of expressing it. That’s why I think I should probably do more art. 

Tagline: Do more art.

Timelapse: youth artist portrait painting.

Credits

FINAL PROJECT LINK: INSIDE OUT PSA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-9R1pgxJHY

PARTICIPANT REFLECTION:

The Inside Out Project run by Kat Thorsen, Erin Ross, and Ian Powell this July truly changed my life. Two days before the program started I lost a friend to a heroin overdose. I could have chosen to fall back into my own heroin addiction but the Inside Out Project helped me stay strong throughout this hard time in my life. Honestly, I don’t think I would have made it through without the love, support and whole-hearted care everyone in the program gave me. The Inside Out Project saved me from myself. It saved my life. – Miko

PROGRAM ENHANCEMENTS:

Vancouver Police Department Mounted Squad field trip: tour with Cst. Darcy Henkel, discussion on violence prevention and use of horses, as well as photo essay opportunities. PHOTO ESSAY LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAE1F99nQXM

Operation Sock Monkey (OSM) craftivism workshop: OSM is a volunteer-run initiative in support of humanitarian organizations that provide laughter, hope and healing to communities around the world affected by disease, disaster and social/political turmoil.

The 200 SockMonkeys For Nepal project: LINK

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#BESTYOUth- Growing Together (ViRTUS /TELUS ®): emotional intelligence workshop with guest facilitator Laura Mack.

Key learnings from #BESTYOUth:

o Get to know your best self

o You always have a choice

o Your values are your inner GPS

o You can learn how not to snap

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A SMALL SAMPLING OF PROGRAM MOMENTS:

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Wow- even though I KNOW, from years of experience, that art heals, art builds connections and art saves lives- experiencing it again and again never ceases to amaze me. I just completed a three week intensive with 11 amazing youth. (I am so honored to have worked with you all!) It takes a lot of courage to dig deep and these 11 youth certainly did that. Watching them develop and form connections in these past three weeks has certainly been a highlight in my career as therapeutic art facilitator. [Special mention to Miko Philip for bravely sharing her personal story on which we could build our creative expression.] Here is their final project video on the theme of “breaking the cycle of violence through creativity.” Huge thank you’s as well to Ian Powell,Erin Ross for developing and facilitating this program with me. And thank you’s to Lenore Kane and Laura Mack for adding significant enrichment to it. – Katarina Thorsen, July 24, 2015

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STAY TUNED FOR MORE ARTS-BASED YOUTH PROGRAMMING:

“INSIDE OUT PROJECT 2016”

AND

“EMPOWER YOUTH CONSULTING SERVICES”

Limited edition hand-embroidered print sale #graphicnovel

I am making available 10 hand-embroidered prints entitled Who is it that can tell me who I am? featuring an original image from my graphic novel, Molly.

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The print captures the moment a crow, the magician of the forest, adorned by a child’s skull as a crown, looks, with intense curiosity, into Lost Lagoon (Stanley Park).

The reflection in the pool features Jocelyn Louise as Molly. (Photographed by Rick Legal).

The imagery in the graphic novel will include drawing, embroidery, photography, collage.  Birds are often included to reflect the core theme/core value of the book: freedom.

   

“Crime Scene, 1947” (in progress)


To purchase a hand-embroidered numbered and signed print (measuring approximately 6″ x 8″):

Email transfer $28 CAD ($22 USD) to britakatarina@gmail (include your mailing address)

[Allow two weeks for delivery]

KING LEAR
Who is it that can tell me who I am?
FOOL
Lear’s shadow.

(William Shakespeare, King Lear, 1.4.236-237)

Day 2: Inside Out Project Summer 2015 #ownyourjourney- a visit to @VPDHorses

INSIDE OUT PROJECT: OWN YOUR JOURNEY- Breaking the cycle of violence through creativity

Inside Out Project – Own Your Journey SUMMER 2015 is a three week intensive arts-based program running out of Mountainside Secondary School (July 6-24, 2015) for youth ages 13-20 that uses the vehicles of therapeutic art, photography and stop motion animation to teach life and transferable skills while developing self-empowerment, peer to peer interaction, community connections and by providing tools to make healthy, non-violent choices. The goal for Inside Out is to help students address the root causes of violence (with a special focus on violence against women) through creative expression. The program allows students to creatively reflect on self, to work in a team and to experience critical engagement and transformative changes that shift their attitudes and behaviors in order to prevent violence. Three experienced facilitators (Ian Powell, Erin Ross, Kat Thorsen) provide instruction and support.

Recall Day 1, July 6, 2015: LINK

Day 2, July 7, 2015, highlights:

Today we visited the Vancouver Police Department Mounted Unit stables.

A huge thank you to VPD horse trainer, Darcy Henkel, for hosting and to all the horses for putting up with our curiosity and cameras!  Stay tuned for a photo essay by our students.

The following photos from today’s visit by photographer/filmmaker, Jennifer Chow, who joined us today:

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Check out Jennifer Chow’s short film about the VPD Mounted Unit:

And her websites:

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Jennifer Chow at the stables today with Tex

The Inside Out Project- Own Your Journey Summer 2015 is offered to youth at no cost thanks to a grant from the Civil Forfeiture Office (CFO) in partnership with the Victim Services and Crime Prevention Division (VSCPD), BC Ministry of Justice.

Day 1: Inside Out Project: Own Your Journey Summer 2015 arts-based youth program

INSIDE OUT PROJECT: OWN YOUR JOURNEY- Breaking the cycle of violence through creativity

Inside Out Project – Own Your Journey SUMMER 2015 is a three week intensive arts-based program running out of Mountainside Secondary School (July 6-24, 2015) for youth ages 13-20 that uses the vehicles of therapeutic art, photography and stop motion animation to teach life and transferable skills while developing self-empowerment, peer to peer interaction, community connections and by providing tools to make healthy, non-violent choices. The goal for Inside Out is to help students address the root causes of violence (with a special focus on violence against women) through creative expression. The program allows students to creatively reflect on self, to work in a team and to experience critical engagement and transformative changes that shift their attitudes and behaviors in order to prevent violence. Three experienced facilitators (Ian Powell, Erin Ross, Kat Thorsen) provide instruction and support.

The program begins with a focus on self, moves into teamwork and ultimately into community.

Week 1: SELF

Photography, therapeutic art, journaling, drawing to focus on self-regulation and creative process

Week 2: TEAM

Team building, project planning, stop motion animation, self and group-directed learning

Week 3: COMMUNITY

Project completion, self-evaluation, community outreach, presentation and celebration

This program is offered to youth at no cost thanks to a grant from the Civil Forfeiture Office (CFO) in partnership with the Victim Services and Crime Prevention Division (VSCPD), BC Ministry of Justice.

Day 1 highlights include:

journaling, drawing, Chalk Talk, photography (including exposure triangle and DSLR 101).

Mindy! 1 of 2 Inside Out mascots!
                  

Animating Shaun Tan’s The Red Tree at Mountainside Secondary.

An extension of the Inside Out Project Own Your Journey  at Mountainside Secondary 2014-2015, the animation portion- spearheaded by my colleague and dear friend, Ian Powell- engaged students in a deep and meaningful way.  Ian chose The Red Tree by Shaun Tan as the vehicle to help students address social and emotional intelligence, self-reflection and empowerment as well as project planning and passion-based learning.  Students worked individually or in small groups to interpret and animate each page of the dark and remarkable book:

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Image source

The Red Tree is a story without any particular narrative; a series of distinct imaginary worlds as self-contained images which invite readers to draw their own meaning in the absence of any written explanation. As a concept, the book is inspired by the impulse of children and adults alike to describe feelings using metaphor – monsters, storms, sunshine, rainbows and so on. Moving beyond cliché, I sought painted images that might further explore the expressive possibilities of this kind of shared imagination, which could be at once strange and familiar. A nameless young girl appears in every picture, a stand-in for ourselves; she passes helplessly through many dark moments, yet ultimately finds something hopeful at the end of her journey. Shaun Tan – source

 Congratulations to all who worked on the piece. Your interpretations are breathtaking and your dedication to the project an inspiration!

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Shaun Tan’s The Red Tree, Mountainside Secondary School 2015:

Inside Out Project Mountainside Secondary: own your journey

On September 30, 2014, I began my collaboration with Ian Powell at Mountainside Secondary on the INSIDE OUT PROJECT- OWN YOUR JOURNEY, inspired by my hero JR:

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My portrait of JR, China Marker on Newsprint, pasted in Gastown in 2014

Screen shot 2014-10-10 at 10.12.04 PMMOUNTAINSIDE SECONDARY: Inside Out Project: Own Your Journey

Youth-run initiative using the vehicle of portrait photography and street art to learn life and transferable skills while developing self-empowerment, peer to peer interaction and community connections.

THEMES: Connection and Empowerment

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As they work through the curriculum, the students gain valuable life and transferable skills.

We use TED TALKS to inspire and to induce dialogue and self-reflection around the theme.

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Student journal entry

When you try to be yourself there will be people who will put you down. You grow up looking up to people and not knowing who you are and being told what to do and what not to do. We all deal with pain in different ways- some do it in a sad way. Having to live in a world where judging a person we don’t even know is a good way to make yourself feel better, or even judging a person makes ‘cool.’ But in the end we are all on this earth for a reason ans we should all love ourselves the way we are and respect all of our good qualities and get rid of all the negative, cruelty thoughts. – student journal entry

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Our unique angle is that this is a youth run project: by addressing their own vulnerability as they connect wtih people/community through portrait photography, the youth feel empowered— and, in turn— empower the subject to feel comfortable being vulnerable in front of the camera!
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Behind-the-scenes documentary by Parmida Afsahi:

The curriculum includes photography, rubrics, journaling, mindmapping, project planning, visual art, wheatpasting, discussions, field trips, group work and self-directed studies from animation to community projects.
The project continues until the end of April.
The plan is for the project to culminate in a large outdoor installation in the Spring.

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The beauty of an art project is that you cannot always measure the impact, but one day it can become clear.
– JR

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Can art change the world? Maybe… we should change the question: Can art change people’s lives? – JR

Congratulations Caddy Pattison on an incredible presentation on Feb 10, 2015 in front of 150 teachers #SD44 on your #walkforwater project benefitting KYT FOUNDATION and thank you Parmida Afsahi for documenting the event and to my colleague Ian Powell.
Congratulations Caddy Pattison on an incredible presentation on Feb 10, 2015 in front of 150 teachers #SD44 on your #walkforwater project benefitting KYT FOUNDATION and thank you Parmida Afsahi for documenting the event and to my colleague Ian Powell.

STAY TUNED FOR INCREDIBLE NEWS RE: INTERNATIONAL OUTREACH PROJECTS AND GLORIOUS ANIMATIONS!

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Inside Out Project: Own Your Journey, Mountainside Pilot Project Week 5 of 5

Recall:

LINK: MOUNTAINSIDE SECONDARY: Inside Out Project: Own Your Journey

Youth-run initiative using the vehicle of portrait photography and street art to learn life and transferable skills while developing self-empowerment, peer to peer interaction and community connections.

THEMES: Connection and Empowerment

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CO-FACILITATORS: IAN POWELL, KAT THORSEN

Pilot Project: September 30, 2014- October 30, 2014

INSPIRED BY OUR HERO, STREET ARTIST JR:

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The beauty of an art project is that you cannot always measure the impact, but one day it can become clear.
– JR

We just completed a school photo shoot and will be looking at the images tomorrow.  It’s been a glorious few weeks.  Creating art pieces, diving into photography, exploring self-empowerment, watching and discussing pertinent TED Talks, journaling, bonding, connecting.  The core team will now explore the option of creating a documentary about the project as we hope to build the program throughout the year.

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Art is not supposed to change the world, to change practical things, but to change perceptions. Art can change the way we see the world. Art can create an analogy. – JR

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The power of paper and glue… – JR

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Can art change the world? Maybe… we should change the question: Can art change people’s lives? – JR

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Art is not meant to change the world, but when you see people interacting, when you see an impact on their lives, then I guess in a smaller way, this is changing the world. So, that’s what I believe in. That’s why I’m into creating more and more interactions. – JR

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Inside Out: youth empowerment, peer to peer interaction and community connections.

I am so excited to be part of this incredible project inspired by my hero JR:

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MOUNTAINSIDE SECONDARY: Inside Out Project: Own Your Journey

Youth-run initiative using the vehicle of portrait photography and street art to learn life and transferable skills while developing self-empowerment, peer to peer interaction and community connections.

THEMES: Connection and Empowerment

CO-FACILITATORS: IAN POWELL, KAT THORSEN

Pilot Project: September 30, 2014- October 30, 2014

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Mountainside Secondary School (MSS) is the North Vancouver School Districts smallest and newest secondary school, meeting the Ministry of Education requirements for funding as an Alternative School (BCEDAlternate Program Policy).

MSS functions as part of the continuum of social/emotional/behavioural supports that are available to all students at all secondary schools in the NVSD, and targets students in Grades 9-12 (ages 14-19).
MSS aims to allow for varied and alternate pathways to graduation (80 credit or Adult) or School Completion, and beyond.

MSS Core Values

  • Mutual respect
  • Genuine relationships
  • Flexibility
  • Choice
  • Individual accountability
  • Community Connections
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TEST SHOOT, INTERSECTIONS MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH SOCIETY, 2013-2014 (including Mountainside students/alumni)

We are proud to be part of the global art initiative INSIDE OUT PROJECT founded by JR:

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As mentioned, we are part of a global art initiative founded by French street artist JR, winner of the 2011 Ted Talk Prize.  Our project is called: The Inside Out Project- Own Your Journey.

As they work through the curriculum, the students will be gaining some valuable life and transferable skills.

We use TED TALKS to inspire and to induce dialogue and self-reflection around the theme.

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Student journal entry

When you try to be yourself there will be people who will put you down. You grow up looking up to people and not knowing who you are and being told what to do and what not to do. We all deal with pain in different ways- some do it in a sad way. Having to live in a world where judging a person we don’t even know is a good way to make yourself feel better, or even judging a person makes ‘cool.’ But in the end we are all on this earth for a reason ans we should all love ourselves the way we are and respect all of our good qualities and get rid of all the negative, cruelty thoughts. – student journal entry

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We are registering our project with JR’s site on Tuesday! And our unique angle is that it is a youth run project and that by addressing their own vulnerability by connecting w people/community through portrait photography, the youth, in turn, empower the subject to feel comfortable being vulnerable in front of the camera!
The project will culminate in a large outdoor installation in the Spring.  A documentary and a behind the scenes short film will also be produced!

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Co-facilitator Ian Powell and his dog, Finnegan!

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STAY TUNED FOR OUR FUNDRAISER TO HELP US WITH PRINTING COSTS AND PROGRAM EXPANSION!!!

Source: The Music Empowers Foundation
Source: The Music Empowers Foundation

Why use seemingly unrelated vintage photographs as sources for a true crime story?

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There is no end to the inspiration I get from looking at vintage photographs- through immersion comes awakened imagination.

The central characters in my graphic novel are real people but as I am doing an artistic interpretation of real events, I revel in the freedom to flesh out the central characters using old photos as a starting point.

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There is no harm in imposing appearance and character on the brothers and sisters, so long as we regard this as a mere device for solidifying Will’s physical background.  We are entitled to visualize him as a boy eating, singing and sleeping in the house on Henley Street, and its convenient to have him surrounded by something thicker than swathes of ectoplasm with name-tags.

– Anthony Burgess, Shakespeare

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Inspiration taken from the photographs of Vivian Maier

A great source for vintage photos in Vancouver BC is Salmagundi West

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Molly- A Graphic Novel Trailer

Editor, cinematography: Julian Bowers

Writer, researcher, illustrator: Katarina Thorsen

This poem, this city, closing its doors, barricaded, almost empty… #graphicnovel #inspiration

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Inspiration taken from the photographs of Vivian Maier

9:09 in the morning,
the taste of liquor and cigarettes,
no police, no lovers, walking the streets,
this poem, this city, closing its doors,
barricaded, almost empty,
mournful without tears, aging without pity,
the hardrock mountains,
the ocean like a lavender flame,
a moon destitute of greatness,
a small music from broken windows …

a poem is a city, a poem is a nation,
a poem is the world …

Charles Bukowski

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Molly- A Graphic Novel Trailer

Editor, cinematography: Julian Bowers

Writer, researcher, illustrator: Katarina Thorsen

Molly installment 1

Does context help or hinder your interpretation of art?

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Does context change the way your interpret an image? A piece of art?

Does knowing whether or not the artist is a man or woman affect the way you read the image? Is it important to know how the artist self-identifies? Does it matter if she was an alcoholic? If he was a bastard? If they are schizophrenic? Poor? Rich? Respected? Neglected? Educated? Outsider?

How do you interpret the image above? For me there is such duality:

Frida Kahlo caught in a moment of laughter with a friend [Chavela Vargas?]. So rare to see such a non-posed photograph of Frida. Caught in a candid moment but she she covers her mouth due to her shyness about her bad teeth. A contrast to her friend who laughs so openly, without embarrassment.

Frida is relaxed and happy, but if we know her story, we know her anguish and physical pain. So much wrapped in her mystery. Frida is so distinct and so grounded in her identity as an artist and Mexican. Her friend appears as a woman of her time. The photo is beautiful as an image unto itself. But even more beautiful to me as I see my heroine [whose imagery inspires my art significantly] in this moment of honesty.

A most interesting test re: context occurred during an art event in March 2011. I exhibited a painting of a middle aged farmer climbing over a fence with the hint of pigs in the foreground. I did not title the piece on purpose. I received positive feedback. It looks so Scandinavian. So peaceful and rustic. I divulged after awhile that the piece was indeed a portrait of Robert “Willy” Pickton, a pig farmer and serial killer. The horror was evident in the viewer. And it opened interesting dialogue.

In 2003, I experimented with a class of Grade 7’s regarding context and interpretation. I gave my friend/the Grade 7 teacher, Michele Lavery, the following image taken by a friend of mine:

Photo by Willem de Mooy
Photo by Willem de Mooy

On purpose, I asked her not to explain who my friend was. The following questions were given to the students:

Title

Describe

Why do you think the photographer took the picture?

What feelings does the picture bring up for you?

Who do you think the photographer might be?

Why might they may have taken that picture?

HERE ARE SOME OF THE RESPONSES:

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Title

The Window

Broken Pain

Baseball

Shattered Window

Clouds

Chipped Shattered

Glistening of the Sun

Broken Dreams

Broken Glass

Modern Art Shattered

Broken View

Broken Sunshine

Bandits

The most popular title: Broken Window

Describe

Window panes with bullet holes in them

It’s a picture looking outside to the sky

A window that’s broken

No colour, hard to understand

Broken stained glass where sun comes in

Seems old-fashioned, kind of ugly, sort of abstract, looks like someone was shot

A window, every pain [sic] is broken/shattered

Dark, eery

Sunny, someone looking through a window

It shows the cruelty of the world in a broken window

Someone looking out of a window at a town. It’s very dark

Plain

Dreary, sad, you’re concealed

Why do you think the photographer took the picture?

It’s pretty outside

Maybe to reflect his/her feelings

Maybe because his/her heart was broken

It symbolizes something

It’s original and interesting

Something happened in his life

Not like any other picture

It’s different and sad

He or she likes the look of broken windows

He was depressed

Symbolism

What feelings does the picture bring up for you?

Grief, sadness

Cold, darkness

Sad, miserable

Like the world has no colour

A broken soul or heart (the heart is the window of the soul)

Sad, lonely, depressed

Nothing really

Like there is something missing

A boring old day

Holy

The cruelty of the world

Broken dreams

Not much, I don’t think it’s so great

Poverty. Repair needed. Maybe the house is on fire.

Who do you think the photographer might be?

Younger, female

Old, sad, lonely

Young person

Sad

Old person

Middle aged person who is sad. He lost someone

Middle aged person

Old lonely man

Some old guy

Older person who knows about art

The photographer is maybe a smart middle-aged man

An older person who seems more wiser

Young, sad, lonely

Young woman

Why might they have taken that picture?

A broken heart, something missing in his life

He was tired of life, the darkness

He wanted to show his feelings

Sadness, alone

May have had a loss of some kind that made him want to commit suicide

His life was broken, not worth living anymore

That he was going to kill himself

Might have brought up feelings

As I watch my life break

Feels like he has no privacy

His life was in ruins

Life isn’t worth anything and so it’s wrecked and my heart is broken

He feels shattered, afraid, useless

Needs to release emotion

He smashed the window because he was mad

He had a boring life and he might have felt left out

It fascinates me to read the responses. My friend, an extraordinary soul and talented artist, took his life at age 23 in 1988.

ARTICLE:

Context May Diminish Art Appreciation

Surprising new research suggests non-experts’ receptiveness to modern artworks may be lessened when contextual information is presented…

Holding on or letting go… lessons from my nephew.

As I watch my nephew taking his steps towards his independence, I am struck with the battle we all struggle with between holding on and letting go.

Just by watching Henrik, I find a metaphor for those battles inside myself.

From the simple holding on to the pinky finger to feel safe- to letting go of the perceived safety net and taking those steps…

To finding simple treasures and admiring them for a moment, enjoying the lift the experience gives, then flinging them back…

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To voraciously holding on, ingesting all that life has to offer, feeling grounded in the holding on to the known, seeking more by grabbing more, collecting no matter what or how…

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To just observing life and death and its wonders, allowing, flying, being light…

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To revisiting and redoing, reassessing, keeping, holding, allowing…

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Breathing through the fear and blocks…