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Collage ‘playshop’ lets hands do thinking

By Staff | Oct 30, 2009

Art by Karen Stefano

Karen Stefano will hold her first local Collage Connection playshop this Nov. 6 and 7 at the Shepherdstown Train Station. Stefano is an artist and practicing lisenced counselor who has been teaching the art of tissue paper collage for more than 20 years.

According to Stefano, collages have been a method of creative art dating back to the 12th century. Stefano’s collage “playshops,” as she has coined them, take the collage to a whole new level. Instead of looking at collages as simply a form of art, Stefano teaches those who attend her workshops to take a deeper look at their creations.

“The practice of tissue paper collage provides the individual with a balanced range of creative processes to help facilitate his or her journey inward and transform fear, anxiety, depression, and grief while accessing a profound sense of revitalization and clarity,” said Stefano.

By working with tissue paper during her playshops, attendees learn to think with their hands and not with their minds. According to Stefano, adults’ lives have become so busy and complex that they leave their imaginative play and artistic side in the past. Because emotions like anger, grief, and fear are often left unexpressed, those feelings are often trapped in our bodies and psyche.

In her playshops, Stefano attempts to help people develop their creative side, while unlocking feelings and questions they may be holding inside.

“One avenue of opening the creative channels is through making and engaging with collages where the hands do the thinking without thought, and play inventively with color tissue paper, letting images emerge from deep within,” Stefano wrote in 2008.

The playshops usually begin with a get-to-know-you session. After that, a mediation session is held to get everyone in the relaxed, care-free mood that is best when making the collages. Then the collage making begins. There are 28 different colors of tissue paper to choose from. There are no scissors involved, the tissue paper is simply ripped, and whatever appears is what was meant to be made.

“I can tell if someone planned their collage,” said Stefano. She mentioned that those that start out planing their pictures always let loose by the end of the day, and let their creative side take over.

After making their collages, attendees are asked to self-evaluate their collages and take notes. After lunch, everyone shares their collages with the rest of the class. “They discuss what [their collage] means to them, and what they see,” said Stefano. She often will ask questions and give input, but mentioned that she never tells them what she sees. “If I tell someone what I see, that is how they are going to view it. What matters is what the collage maker sees, and how they view their piece,” said Stefano.

Attendees make several collages during their playshop. As well as make collages, attendees will learn to deepen their somantic awareness and prove to themselves that they can be an artist without any artistic skill at all.

Although her playshops are usually five days long, the Shepherdstown playshop will be a day and a half to see if the interest is here. “If I get enough interest, I will do it here again,” said Stefano.

Stefano was trained by Dr. Edith Wallace, a world-renowned Jungian analyst who developed the Tissue Paper Collage Method more than 30 years ago. “I studied with her for 20 years,” said Stefano. Stefano was one of only two apprentices that Wallace had; the other apprentice now resides in Switzerland.

Stefano has been teaching the art of tissue collage making all over the world for 20 years. She has held retreats in England, China, and most recently in Japan. She mentioned that she holds a retreat in New Mexico every year.

Stefano currently works as a counselor and has a private practice in Charles Town.

The Details:

When: Friday Evening, Nov. 6, 7 p.m.-9:30 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 7, 9:30 a.m-4:30 p.m.

Where: The Shepherdstown Train Station, Shepherdstown, West Virginia

Workshop Fee: $150 includes all art supplies

Bring a bagged lunch for Saturday

– For more information on Stefano and the tissue paper collage, please visit www.tissuepapercollage.net.

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