Helping youth express themselves through art
Tyasha Kandassamy was knocked for a loop when her parents divorced. She was 19 and living in Barcelona, studying Spanish. An art workshop helped her to sort out her emotions.
“I fell in love with art therapy,” the 30-year-old said. “Physical art can be very emotional. I always use my hands. In painting, I use everything but a paintbrush. It's a release.”
This summer she's offering an art club to help 12 to 18-year-olds find similar inner peace.
“Xpressions is meant to provide a safe and creative environment for children and young adults to express themselves,” she said.
“I felt that was a very rough age group for parents. Sometimes children are too young to stay at home by themselves but don't want to go to a camp any more. It gives the older children somewhere to be that is age-appropriate.”
Attendance can be on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, with classes taught by Sarai Hines and Yanna Smith. People don't have to be talented artists to attend.
Ms Kandassamy taught art to children at Kaleidoscope Arts Foundation and Chatterbox Preschool. She believes a similar programme could help older children, prisoners and people in hospital.
“Doing art in the preschools I could see how it could transform children in little ways,” she said.
“I had a whole curriculum which I tried to get the Ministry of Education interested in but they wouldn't bite. They had the old mentality that therapy means talking to a counsellor.
“Every child learns differently. Some are more academic than others, and some are more hands-on.”
She believes a wall where people can vent their frustrations will be a huge draw at her club this summer.
“They can throw paint at it, draw on it, use chalk, throw water on it, whatever. It will be a kind of collective art project belonging to no one particular person,” she said.
Ms Kandassamy was Called to the Bar last year but works in commercial banking at HSBC because she could not find a job in her field. Her dream is to become a family lawyer, offering therapeutic services such as art therapy.
“It would be a most unorthodox legal practice, but that is me,” she said. “I don't follow the straight line. I have always been one to think outside the box. My goal is to have a host location so I can offer classes, camps and workshops year-round.”
Daily drop-ins at Xpressions are $50. Students can also attend for $250 per week or $900 per month. The club runs from 8.30am to 5.30pm at WindReach. Ms Kandassamy offers a payment plan to struggling parents.
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