News and Views

News and Views

Artist as Activist - Donna Diamond Returns to Detroit

Posted by mgcollege

Mar 26, 2014 9:43:46 AM

DiamondHamtrckSPNeeds14bThe Institute of Music & Dance Welcomed Back to Detroit
An artist who reaches out into the community to encourage the exploration of the creative process through the individual’s unique voice.

Donna Diamond returned to Marygrove College and the Detroit Community to work with young and old in the creative process. The Institute of Music & Dance at Marygrove College was gratified to witness the engagement and growth of each group of participants during the workshops Ms. Diamond presented. The response from students and teachers was overwhelmingly positive. The joy expressed in the use of art as a means to express each individual’s voice rang out loud and clear from the things the students would keep safe in a jar to the color choices and brush strokes they created. The exclamation of a 2nd grader, at the Nataki Talibah charter school, after Ms. Diamond talked to the students about primaryDIAMONDNTSD14 colors and mixing colors was priceless…“I MADE PINK!!!” she shouted out in utter joy. A huge thank you goes out to Ms. Diamond as she rescheduled her return to New York in order to conduct workshops that had to be cancelled, on Wednesday, March 12th, due to a snow day.

Ms. Diamond came to Detroit, March 11 - 14, 2014 and worked with five distinctly different groups of participants:

• Seniors residing at McGivney-Bethune Apartments (a HUD subsidized apartment complex on the campus of Marygrove College (13 participants)
• Marygrove College undergraduate art therapy students (19 participants/1 teacher)
• Emotionally impaired high school students attending Hamtramck High School (21 students/3 teachers)
• Two classes of art students at MLKing High School in Detroit (57 students/1 teacher) DiamondNTSD14b
• Two classes of 1st – 3rd grade students at Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse Detroit (44 students/1 teacher)

A total of 154 participants and 6 teachers were engaged in the workshops. Each group was inspired by Ms. Diamond’s approach and positive feedback. Group discussion of individual’s work was encouraged and explored. At Hamtramck HS, some of the students who were waiting in the classroom for the workshop to begin were reading Bridge to Terabithia. Unbeknownst to the students and teachers, Donna was the illustrator for that Newbery award winning book! Everyone was so excited and felt they were being taught by a celebrity.

• Nataki Talibah – “I love art and I am going to write an essay about it”… “Wish we could do this all day”… “I got to paint things I love”… “I made beautiful colors different from anyone else”… Students were asked how the art workshop made them feel… “Happy, confident and that I am in a creative world”…”Made me feel awesome making a new invention by myself”… DiamondNTSD14e“That I am in a colorful world”… “Surprised that I can be creative.” When Ms. Diamond showed the students some of her artwork… one student raised her hand and said, “I know that picture it is from the book Bridge to Terabithia.”… this certainly confirms that pictures say a thousand words.

• ML King HS – “Art can dance and I made so many colors just using primary colors”…”The art we did today reminds me of free verse poetry, I LOVED IT!”… “I got to tell my story, my wonderful story without saying ANYTHING! ...”I loved how Ms. Diamond monitored our painting and told us how good we were doing using our own voices”… “This taught me to let my mind be free”…”I learned that art comes from the heart and not from what others tell you.”

• Marygrove College Art Therapy – “ I learned a lot about bringing out the creative mind and thoughts in painting”…”Learned that art is the one thing you can’t get wrong if you are being yourself”…”Ms. Diamond, through her lecture, showed me that art is not about what the picture looks like, but how I feel while making art”… “My personality came out on the paper when I stopped thinking”… “I learned about the creative process and also met a famous children’s book illustrator who I read about in a children’s literature class”… “Ms. Diamond’s energy lit up the room.”

Donna Diamond, New York award winning and internationally exhibited artist, has turned her talent of artistic expression and creativity into working with seniors with dementia as well as school children with special needs. She has developed workshops in the creative process toDiamondMLKing14a include those groups along with students without disabilities. Embracing the premise that art is made with the head, the heart and the hand, each workshop incorporates experiences that appeal to the five senses and is designed to offer individuals the opportunity to explore and create art that is completely his/her own. Through art, participants become actively involved in the process of self-expression that is unmediated by words. They thus engage in telling the stories that only they can tell.

Thank you to the following administrators and teachers for their support of this outreach event
Jo Ann Cusmano, Mary Lou Greene, Michelle Pate, Denise Litterio, Veronica Lassen
Lela Creighton, Elijah Rozier, Joel Ostrowski, Ida Hawkins and Disheka Daniels


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