The Power of the Expressive Arts

At the Meeting House, making friends and building a community that is caring and respectful are at center of all that we do. Together with our students and art teacher Vin Buchan, we create a space full of attachment and warmth, where love is the guiding principle and all are encouraged to have fun, develop and maintain attachments to friends, and express themselves in a safe and stimulating environment.

This month, through a multi-disciplinary arts-based approach, we have been focusing on the importance of understanding the ‘body language’ of those around us. We’ve been exploring the many ways it provides us with information about others’ feelings and reactions, and helps us develop awareness of ourselves and our own subsequent reactions. Embedded in this important component of social emotional learning, is the ability to feel attached and compassionate, revealing again the universal foundation that love plays in all our interactions. Through activities such as dance, music, photography, and sculpture, our kids are strengthening their relationship-building abilities, widening their peer groups, and expanding their ability to express themselves.

It’s been an exciting and revelatory unit, starting with a dance performance by The Meeting House’s very own Jason Bams, a uniquely talented dancer and performer who choreographed two distinctly different dances to showcase. It was a great opportunity for our kids to observe this type of performance up close, and they loved his dances. Afterward, the students were encouraged to comment and ask Jason questions about the underlying themes and feelings of his performance. The students then examined photographs of Jason in various expressive poses from his dance, and wrote down the feeling they interpreted from his facial and body language. Some truly dynamic reactions came out of this exercise.

For our next project, drawing inspiration from the angular sculptural figures of the Italian artist, Giacometti, we’ve been building our own figurative sculptures. Kids have been busy twisting wire and pipe cleaners, molding clay, and painting, and considering how emotions and feelings can be depicted through sculpture. We’ve been paying particular attention to the way that body language conveys helpful information about how others are feeling, whether it is in school or at home, with friends, family or peers. Each amazing sculptures tells a story about the young artist’s intention to convey emotion. What’s not to love?