Jardín de Gratitud [Garden of Gratitude] Immigrant Mixed Media Art

When I do art as a ministry of presence (AKA "art therapy), I seek to find an intentional way for a guided meditation which includes mixed media art and theological reflection. I particularly like to focus on blessings and to name the presence of God amidst the trials and suffering of life. I am not naive or blissfully ignorant of the difficulties of life. Rather, I believe that when we invite God into the pits of life (those pits which we all inevitably find ourselves) then those pits become holy ground. Keeping mindful of God's presence amidst trials is at the center of my ministry of presence inside a detention center for immigrant women and children seeking asylum in the USA from the violence in their Central American homelands. Occasionally I facilitate a project which includes identifying the suffering as a way to name and then claim healing. More often then not, I choose to keep the focus upon on assuming that the suffering does of course exist and then looking for God's care and providence amidst the unpleasantness. The project "Garden of Gratitude" names the important people in our lives, especially those who have been particularly helpful in ensuring our safe arrival to "this point in time" (whatever/wherever one is at the moment).

The first step is to prepare a sample series which shows the phases of the mixed media art reflection. It also is helpful to make a simple one-page instruction which shows pictures of the steps and includes basic directions. 

When I first began this ministry I made a sample of the art reflection and a simple bilingual how-to instruction sheet. I found that it is much better to make a set of four teaching samples which show the significant steps along the way. For my context, it is not realistic to have "one" teaching time. Rather, there is a steady flow in-and-out of women and children starting and working through the project at varying times over the duration of the designated time frame. Instead of explaining the project over-and-over, it is much easier to have a set of visuals which show the process. The one-page instructions with more photos fills in the gaps. I bring diverse art tools and supplies. For many of the women and children it's the first time they've had access to Hobby Lobby and Michael's art materials. The examples and photos help make the new experience non threatening and fun. 
Artful reflection blends traditional art and journaling ideas with theological reflection on a particular person, event, and/or context. It is art with a theologically reflective purpose.