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Wings to Fly installation at Finlandia university

In April 2016 I spend a week in Hancock, Michigan working with students from the International School of Art and Design at Finlandia University. With the students, I worked in a three-day workshop on both storytelling and building “Wings to fly” textile installation using textiles, paper and acrylic colors. The design and artistic process included use of cultural probe before the workshop and than collaborative storytelling and working with a textile installation. There were 7 participants in the workshop and six of them returned storytelling probe before the workshop. The goal for the design process was to give participants artistic, visual and verbal tools for processing their life histories, analyzing them and finding empowering contents and resources in the stories. The process was designed and facilitated by the author. Junior research participated in facilitation and video documentation of the workshop. “My wings to fly” –textile installation and video workshop took place in April 8th-22nd 2016 at Refection Gallery,
Jutila Center, Hancock, MI, USA.

The youth shared their fragile and innermost feelings in their stories. One of the participants writes about her life experiences: My dad passed away 2 years ago on the 31st of this March, this is by far the hardest thing that I have ever had to endure. This hurt more than my first heartbreak, more than the betrayal of my best friend, more than my stepdad abusing me while growing up, more than my mom staying, more than nearly being raped by my step grandfather, more than my car accident almost taking my life, more than anything. My dad, he was a brave man, a strong man, a loving man, and my best friend.”

Another participant sharing a story: ”My name is NN, and ever since I was a kid dreams were just a fantasy land. Where I grew up dreams were just another word for lost hope. You talk about dreams, and people laughed as if you were a joke or high on drugs. I knew I wasn’t on any drugs but one thing I did know; my dreams would become reality with hard work. Grown up on the South side of NN, Michigan in a neighborhood where your own neighbor might be the next one into break in your house. Gun shots ringing in the air, sirens in the distant and long night’s god must have been watching over me. With no father figure in my life I never really understood how to be a young man with so much corruption around I felt like I was a victim to my own town.”

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