Eurajoen kristillinen opisto
Everybody knows
how to draw. 

For me, this is a fact and I am not talking about the purist school or traditional art concepts where a drawing to be valid has to have perfect proportions and perspectives. For me a good drawing is the one that tells me something, the one that expresses emotions and the one that does not leave indifferent whatever the style register is.

When we were children we used to draw all the time, because it helped us to translate our internal world to the outside and leave a piece of us mark somwhere, but why did we stop doing it then? This is one of the questions we try to anwser in the workshop I gave as an invited artist in Eurajoen kristillinen opisto in Eurajoki.
The students who are refugees from different countries such as Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Estonia and Syria, experienced the process of drawing again after long time.

At first they struggled a lot to get ‘’perfect’’ drawings but then gradually relaxed and went back to enjoying themselves without having to worry about adult conventions of what is a ‘’bad or good drawing’’.
The workshop was carried out thanks to the help of the teacher Veera Ahlbom and included two lectures in which I presented my work, explained theories about comics in brief and showed references from the comic world. 
Then we did some excercises in the classroom that helped to relax and loosen the hands. Through exercises such as the self-portrait, something they would have wanted to be when they were children and ‘’If I were an animal, what animal would I be?’’ the students were able to explore their own metaphors, modes of expression and symbolic representations of reality in order to go beyond the direct contact with the environment. At the end of the second day we wrote a story that became their first comic!
To protect the identity of the refugees their faces are covered.
Exercises such as self-portraits and ''If I were an animal, what would I be?'' helped students to let their hands go and work on metaphors.
Many of this students are in Finland as refugees but are still waiting for the Finnish government to make a final decision on their cases. Many of them have terrible survival stories, of which many crossed several countries in Europe to reach some stability, many have not yet been reunited with their families, now adding to a global pandemic that makes their situation even worst.

Self portraits drawings by the students

Self portraits drawings by the students.

This workshop gave them some tools to further explore the capabilities of drawing and writing to express their way of seeing the world and encouraged them to tell their stories in comic format.

Even if the stories are difficult to register, it is well known that comics has this binary element text/image that more than often compensates the deep emotional content with a more ''simple'', even childish style creating an unique balance, difficult to obtain in other media.
Hillary Chute in her book 'Why comics?' wonders what makes comics such a suitable material to narrate trauma in stories.

To protect the identity of the refugees their faces are covered.

Drawing made by a student in the workshop.
''I am fascinated not only by how authors construct narrative this way but also... why—especially since comics comes up against the conventional understanding that the system of drawing must be inherently more “fictional” than the system of writing—are there so many nonfiction works, especially about trauma, in comics?''

Chute, Hillary. Graphic Women.
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