Reflections on the Leaf Crafting Workshops

In my most recent Leaf Crafting Workshop, I tried something new. When it was time to make leaves together, I decided to play some music so that everyone felt comfortable muting themselves and focusing on what they were making. I also thought this would allow them more mental space for reflection and meditation on the meaning behind what they were making. In the process, I also learned that I really enjoyed curating a playlist for the event and sharing it with others. I loved playing a bit of ambient post rock like Explosions in the Sky and Helios, as well as folk and indie rock like Boygenius, and country like Sara Watkins. I felt like a DJ, playing tunes that I hoped would heal and comfort others the way they had done for me so many times. The moment when people wrote in the chat that they loved the music, or when multiple people wrote that the same song was one of their favorites, it reminded me how much music can connect people. As we worked on making our leaves, participants introduced themselves and shared about their loved ones they were there to remember. One participant then expressed that she was feeling insecure about her lack of artistic skill. I stressed that artistic skill was unnecessary here, that the point was the experience of making the leaves, and the intention or meaning behind it. 

After the leaf making portion was over, I turned off the music, we turned on our mics again and people shared their leaves, their loved one’s names, and how the experience of making their leaves felt. At the end, that same woman who had expressed such insecurity about her artistic skill shared that our simple conversation in the chat had allowed her to open up creatively, try again, and make a beautiful tribute to her loved one. One woman expressed that it was meaningful to be able to do this activity while holding her daughter in her arms. Yet another said she had not realized she needed to do something like making leaves for her loved one, but that doing so had felt really good and had been very helpful. Another shared the process of being able to let go of feelings of guilt while making her leaves. 

I knew I wanted to help people, and I suspected that inviting people to collaborate with me and holding these workshops could do that, but the results far surpassed my expectations. I am supremely grateful that I stumbled upon this project idea, which has allowed me to reach out, connect with others, and help people in a meaningful way through my art practice. I knew art had always been healing for me, and I knew that it could be healing for others too. But it’s not only about the making, also equally important for healing are reflection, processing, sharing, connecting, and telling our stories.