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Tissue paper collage playshop inspires

By Staff | Nov 12, 2010


A Tissue Paper Collage Connection with Karen Stefano came to Shepherdstown last weekend. The Tissue Paper Collage is an inspired and introspective practice that is naturally in tune with people’s quest for knowledge, understanding, wisdom and the freedom to play.

In the workshop, the collage practice provides a balanced range of creative processes to help transform fear, anxiety, stress and grief while accessing a profound sense of renewal and clarity. The class is done in a relaxed atmosphere. Stefano’s program teaches people how to use creativity to restore and transform their lives.

Stefano, a resident of Charles Town, is an artist and practicing counselor. She has led collage playshops around the world for more than 20 years. The Collage Connection meets about every six months, and there is a retreat once a year in Santa Fe, N.M.

“Playing and making tissue paper collages may seem like creative activities reserved for kindergarten students; however, it is these basic inventive and imaginative actions that have the power to shape lifelong changes in our body, mind and emotions,” Stefano said. “The Collage Connection … uses 30 different colors of tissue papers as a catalyst to set the imagination free which leads to curiosity and creativity, facilitating an inward journey that invites a fresh perspective on life.”

Theresa Trainor, of Shepherdstown, has taken the class three times.

“I am extremely proud of the creativity that it has produced,” she said.

The class teaches Trainor non-verbal expression.

“When you start you’re not sure how it will turn out. It’s a chance to be reflective and to work with in one’s inner self,” Trainor said.

The idea behind the Tissue Paper Collage Playshop program comes from Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His philosophy was if you have nothing at all to create, then perhaps you create yourself.

When fully engaged in creative activity, propelled by an energy that has nothing to do with logic, individuals naturally begin to move past the critical mind and restore the unity of body, mind and feelings. Stefano believes that everyone has the opportunity to cultivate a mindful and creative life by becoming aware of the unconscious that each of us has deep inside.

“Karen Stefano has been a great person to work with. She has a deep understanding of the Jung theory. I will probably attend another class in the spring. The classes have been worth doing and I get a lot of enjoyment out of them,” Trainor said.

Stefano thinks that one of the ways to become aware is through collages.

“One avenue of opening to the creative channels is through making and engaging with collages, where the hands do the thinking without thought and play inventively with colorful tissue paper, letting images emerge from deep within,” she said. “The mutual activity of hands, eyes and brain produce a subtly different kind of awareness. In this process, the mind has time to let go of words and any purposeful thought, so it can relax into the moment.”

Stefano believes that five practices that help cultivate creativity. They are:

Stop. Slow down. Breathe.

Ground your body to the earth.

Tune in to yourself and listen.

Trust in the unknown. Appeal to the Sacred

Dwell in what you are doing. Give it time.

Stefano trained under Edith Wallace, a world-renowned Jungian analyst who developed the tissue paper collage method more than 30 years ago.

Stefano travels the world, leading workshops and speaking at seminars and conferences. Stefano co-founded DuVersity, a non-profit educational organization devoted to building bridges between psychology and spirituality.

Trainor has also traveled to New Mexico and taken the five-day retreat that is offered.

“One great way to describe the workshops is to see them as a time for colorful meditation, a time to let life flow through you onto paper in varied shapes and colors. It’s a very satisfying experience,” she said.