A few weeks ago Connection Lab presented to members of the Medical Reserve Corps in Massachusetts’ Region 4b. Organized by the Newton Health Department, the training was about ways to use the arts in crisis situations and how art projects can help people to feel more connected to one another, more useful, calmer and better-informed. After exploring examples of collaborative art projects projects and discussing the ways that some workshop participants have used art in their work, the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers designed a fabric wall hanging that depicts a number of ways that the MRC helps people. They connected the ideas by imagining them as the approaches and responses that the MRC has in it’s “toolbox”.
During the activity the volunteers experienced many of the elements of collaborative art that we had discussed during the presentation. In just a short time (about 45 minutes) they came up with creative ideas, they worked together successfully to create something large and colorful, they talked to each other more casually and more deeply than they had during the presentation, and they created art that will beautify the health department at Newton City Hall. Although some people felt uncomfortable about their art skills, working together in pairs helped participants combine their own strengths with those of someone else, making each piece of the design more beautiful and more interesting.
After the workshop I sewed the pieces together to make the design more permanent. It will be hung shortly at Newton City Hall.