A Creative Start to 2021!

January marks the beginning of a new year and a fresh start to our creative minds. AIR has continued to virtually gather and to make art together! In addition to our after-school programs, AIR has hosted workshops and creative co-working sessions to bring together teens, alumnae, and new teaching artists! We’ve taken this time to connect and share, even over the Zoom airways.

 Writers Workshop  – Featuring Guest Writer, CJ Lewis  

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, a small group of AIR staff, teens, and alumnae gather on Zoom with teaching artist CJ Lewis, associate producer at New Hampshire Theatre Project. It doesn’t take long before we begin joking and laughing together.  We start off our workshop with a quick check-in, sharing recent songs or music genres that we feel express our current emotions. CJ leads the group in an introduction activity in which we get into pairs in breakout rooms. Once separated, each person vents about any topic of our choosing for one minute before switching roles. We all return to our main group, where we introduce our partners by reimagining what they disliked into something they value. Our venting sessions show a great deal about what we value—largely emphasizing compassion, listening, and respect.

Next, CJ shares his experience working with the “We Don’t Know What This Is Yet” Podcast. Specifically, CJ details how his podcast interviews guests to then transform their experiences into art.  He shares that interviewing yourself can be a way to self-reflect and to jumpstart creativity. He first tasks us with taking the time to answer a series of questions about our current situation and future goals. We all break off to write, turning off our screens for some private reflection time. After some time, we return to the group to share our thoughts on this process.

CJ then tasks us with reviewing our work to transform our interviews into a creative piece of art. We listen to a bit of the podcast as an example of this transformation. He explains that this art could be anything—poetry, short stories, visual arts, songs, OH MY! He encourages us to think of ourselves as characters in a story. Once again we break off to dive into our creative minds. Our group works in a variety of creative forms, sharing songs, poetry and short stories. We later share some of our work!

After sharing, it is clear we are leaving with some thoughts and plans for future creative projects.  It wouldn’t be AIR if we didn’t end the workshop with a cheer, all putting our hands into the center of our virtual “circle” and cheering together!

First Creative Co-Working Session of 2021!

AIR held its first virtual Creative Co-working session of 2021 on January 11! This is a time for the AIR community to gather and work on independent projects in a community space.

We start off our session by sharing our projects that we are currently working on. At this session, our participants work on everything from papier-mâché to songwriting to sign language practice!

Feedback during these sessions helps us to improve our projects and receive creative insight. One teaching artist shares their newest vision board, while others discuss educational paths and experiences. We learn about plenty of new things like avocado fabric dying and even mealworms! As we look across the Zoom boxes, we see a range of activity— playing piano, pleating masks, reading, and embroidering just to name a few!

Towards the end of our session, we officially reassemble to share once more about our progress. Some show pieces of their work, while others explain their creative process.  We end on a high note, picking a cheer for us to conclude our session. Without much hesitation, we pick “What’s up dog?” as our ending cheer! As always, we shout in unison until it slowly evolves into laughter.

2021 promises so many more opportunities for creativity! We are looking forward to making more art together and to even more laughter in this upcoming year!