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Art Adventures Southwest Blog

Team Building Through Expressive Arts


"Jane was a pleasure to work with! Her recommendations for our group worked perfectly. We truly enjoyed our Team building session." Quote from Melanie L., group organizer

Melanie was from a major corporation in Albuquerque. She contacted me about a team building event for her group of eight staff members from human resources. We talked about the size of her group and came up with an idea - a group mandala. A mandala is a circle, often considered to represent the cosmos. The center of the circle is viewed as a power symbol. There are Tibetan Sand Mandalas, Native American Medicine Wheels, Rose Windows, the Celtic Cross, halos, and of course, from nature - the sun. Even the iris of our eye can be considered a mandala.

 For the group mandala, I recommended a geometric format that had eight sections in it - since there were eight participants. I also suggested that the geometric divisions of the mandala include triangles- triangles are dynamic and indicate change and movement. The center of the mandala symbolized unity and was a good metaphor for the team building art project. The group was energetic, new to art and new to pastels. They dove right into the large poster board with their vivid chalks and used the mandala outlines to create the vibrant image you see above.

Another amazing project was organized for a group of over 100 business people from a large company.  So that there could be more personal interaction, we subdivided the group and I worked with twelve business men and women. We met in an artist's studio and made collages. The theme was self portraits, and my group made portraits of themselves as an aspect of nature. The participants surprised themselves and each other with their creativity and their final images - self portrait as tree, self portrait as cloud, self portrait as fish. The group laughed a lot, was absorbed in what they were doing and learned something about themselves and each other. The people I worked with were playful and creative, although none of them were trained as artists. Collages are fun because no drawing ability is needed and almost everyone remembers learning how to cut, tear, and paste.

A very different group came and stayed at La Posada in Santa Fe, as part of a Spring Fling Adventure. This was a group of women who have joined together for a number of years to share their travel experiences across the United States. I suggest to Teresa from Grand Events that we organize a pastel sketching class outdoors in the gardens of La Posada. This was perfect for an adventurous group of women who wanted to try out their creativity. We painted with pastels on a lovely spring day among flowers, intense blue sky, and the deep peach color of the adobe walls. I love creating activities where "non-artists" experience the joy of connecting to nature through art.

Each one of these activities (and others not mentioned in this blog) were developed in an exchange between myself and the organizer of the group. The creativity in the planning and then the creativity in the process itself, makes my job of offering expressive arts for team building very satisfying.

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