Three Schools Joint EGAKU - Part 2

We started the EGAKU Program for three high schools at Kaetsu Ariake Junior & Senior High School in July. This is a 5-part workshop program to develop the creative expression and self-awareness of a group of voluntary participants from three private high schools - each with their own distinctive character. The second session took place at Fujimigaoka Educational Institute in a terrace room with a phenomenal view.

The theme was “Origin.” This being the second session, we presented them with a somewhat abstract theme. Despite everyone’s initial reaction that that this was a tough theme, once they got going it was like a switch went off and they appeared to be utterly absorbed, each of them bringing to life their microcosm of “Origin”.

For one student the creative process started with the question: “Why were we born as human beings in the first place?” Another student approached painting the theme by contemplating “Shifting emotions – the many mixed emotions humans we have inside, how we find ourselves hating something we loved, and at other times coming to love what we hate.” Another created their work from the perspective “origin = the person I want to be.”

The theme “origin” was a spring board for each to create their own work based on their own unique thought process, through this display of creative expression the second session was again a powerful experience. We’re looking forward to the next session.

We'd like to share some reflections on the session from the participants:

"It made me think that no matter how old you are, the way you feel (some things) are alike - no matter how many years you've lived perhaps what lies at the core of every human being is the same."
"There are so many different ways of thinking so I want to be open to everything and absorb everything I can, without rejecting any kind of opinion."
"The first thing that popped into my head when I thought of "origin" was my mother - which surprised me. She's not someone I usually think about but I guess when it comes to the theme of "origin" she comes to mind."
"I hope to communicate my opinions in my school life just like I do in my pictures."
"By painting my ‘Origin’ I think I managed to clarify my thoughts on what I want to be. Going forward I want to live without compromising my values."
"It made me think that perhaps I should change the way I see things. When I go to university I want to connect with all kinds of people and participate in this kind of workshop." 

Theme: Origin
Program overview: EGAKU Program
Participants: 15 participants, 11 junior and senior high school students and teaching staff from Fujimigaoka High School for Girls, Kaetsu Ariake Junior & Senior High School, Seigakuin Junior & Senior High School 
Venue: Fujimigaoka High School for Girls
Facilitator: Kimi Hasebe
Staff: Ryoko Nakamura 

2014.10.17 & 2014.11.7

Denenchofufutaba Senior High School

We held the EGAKU Program for grade 3 senior high students of Denenchofufutaba Gakuen.

As part of their presentation on "The 26 Year-Old Me" as part of their graduation project, their teacher came up with the idea of integrating  EGAKU into the process thereby getting students to engage in deeper self examination and reflection.

To fit this into the class time, the three hour process was split into two parts.
Although the students were frank in voicing what they felt and full of energy, as soon as the painting exercise started they fell silent and intently tackled the tough theme of "The 26 Year-Old Me: My Heart/Soul". The first session ended as soon as they finished painting their works, so they were probably left in a daze patiently waiting for 3 weeks until the second part of the workshop.

The second part was held at 9201 Gallery.

As soon as they entered the studio they were totally engrossed in Kuni-san's artworks. The way they seemed to revel in this art space, all the while voicing their reactions to the artworks was particularly notable.

As a quick warm up we invited them to take a close look at one of the works from the "Early Works I" Exhibition before finally kicking off the second part of the workshop. We were able to see the students in action, observing "Hmm... this one's difficult" about a classmate's abstract form of expression all the while trying their best to understand it, looking closely; bashfully but sincerely talking about their thoughts, and giving respectful feedback on their friends' presentations.

Today we didn't have the chance to hear what each of them were thinking, feeling - but we look forward to hearing more at a later date. 

Theme: "The 26 Year-Old Me"
Program overview: EGAKU Program
Participants: 13 participants - grade 3 senior high school students, teaching staff 
Venue: Denenchofufutaba Gakuen, White Ship -Office & 9201 Gallery-
Host Institution: Denenchofufutaba Senior High School
Instructor: Kunihiko Yazawa
Facilitator: Kimi Hasebe
Staff: Yoshino Kuwahara, Ryoko Nakamura



In October we ran the EGAKU Program in New York as a prototype workshop for a team of voluntary participants from Acumen - a non-profit organization that supports businesses in low income countries. 
This workshop was the result of a collaboration with Tomoko Matsukawa - a fellow of the non-profit ELAB, chaired by Kunihiko Yazawa, and a Senior Innovation Associate at Acumen. We had 7 participants of diverse nationalities take part. 

The theme: "The Future You Want to Create at Acumen - What You Want to Continue to Value." Although everyone joined the workshop in the middle of their hectic working day, perhaps characteristic of a group of people with a commitment to a social venture, we saw works that projected their powerful hopes for the future emerge from the session. It was a great session. 

Here are some discoveries made by participants during the creative process: 

  • The other participants are deep, caring, artistic and beautiful. I’m proud to be in the crowd and appreciate their willingness to share with me. 
  • Remembering that we are all trying to get to the same place. That we use different language to describe maybe the same thing. Acumen is complex, life is complex. Art is a tool for storytelling.
  • What my team members are thinking, what they value, and the diversity there.
  • To think about what other people see when approaching a problem that I am not seeing.
  • Be proactive about busting down doors.
  • This is the most immersed I have been in a while! It felt very therapeutic.
  • More art nights! 

Theme: "The Future You Want to Create - What You Want to Continue to Value"
Program overview: EGAKU Program
Participants: 7 voluntary participants from Acumen
Venue: Acumen Head Office (New York)
Facilitator: Kimi Hasebe
Interpreter: Ryoko Nakamura 


Sekimachi Kita Elementary School of Nerima Ward

At Sekimachi Kita Elementary School where we run the EGAKU Program every year, this year  we also had 1st and 2nd grade students paint "My heart/soul". 

"Your soul's invisible, but I wonder what color it is? Let's try and imagine." 
They pondered over Professor Kuni's questions and the result was 18 worlds expressing their souls.

The children appeared to be surprised by each other's creations and wrote many appreciation comments in response to the works. 
They also presented the titles to their works somewhat bashfully but proudly. 

Among them were children who participated last year, and we had many children tell us: "We want to do this again next year!" - something we're looking forward to.

Lastly, we'd like to share some comments, reflections we received from them:

  • I thought that even though we all have hearts, inside each one is completely different.
  • Even though it's my second time, it was really hard. I think I understood my soul.
  • Everyone painted beautiful pictures. I want to come again. 
  • I understood that each one of us has different souls, and that no one has the same soul.
  • I noticed that my heart is totally different to last year. 
  • I'm glad that I could feel how my heart is, and paint it. 
  • It was even more wonderful than last year. I want to come again next year. 

Theme: My heart/soul
Program overview: EGAKU Program
Participants: 18 elementary school students, grades 1-2
Venue: Sekimachi Kita Elementary School of Nerima Ward
Host institution: Midori no Kaze Hiroba
Instructor: Kunihiko Yazawa
Facilitator: Sae Shirasaki
Staff: Yoshino Kuwahara, Ryoko Nakamura 


Sekimachi Kita Elementary School of Nerima Ward Supporters 

We held an EGAKU session for the volunteer staff mothers who have supported us for the children's workshops we run at Sekimachi Kita Elementary School. 

Always watching over the children creating their works, this time they had the courage to take part themselves and paint a picture and give expression to their own thoughts and feelings.

During the appreciation and presentation of each others works, it was an opportunity for the mothers to talk about feelings they rarely get to share, and be inspired by each other. 

We'd like to share a few comments we received from the participants reflecting on this experience: 

  • People are multifaceted. One shouldn't have prejudices or arbitrarily assume things. I would like to let go of my preconceptions when I interact with children and people in general. 
  • It felt anew that it's by being healthy myself - in mind and body - that I can make people around me happy.
  • It was an opportunity to think afresh about family and life itself.
  • I realized I had assumed that painting was a specialized field. But I feel that from now I'll be able to feel that "pictures" - this form of expression that existed in ancient times before there we had language - as something more familiar. I also want to see the world created by children with the same sentiment. 
  • I became aware that I want to enjoy every day with my children, and that I want to continue growing.
  • I thought that I may be going through a period when I'm wavering in many ways. I've got to hold steady!
  • I felt how hard it is to give expression to one's thoughts. There may be some technical aspects for sure, but beyond that it's perhaps important to continue looking at your heart every day. 

Theme: What I Value
Program overview: EGAKU Program
Participants: Supporters of Midori No Kaze Hiroba, head master of Sekimachi Kita Elementary School
Venue: Sekimachi Kita Elementary School of Nerima Ward
Host institution: Midori No Kaze Hiroba
Instructor: Kunihiko Yazawa
Facilitator: Kimi Hasebe
Staff: Yoshino Kuwahara, Ryoko Nakamura, Sae Shirasaki



We held an EGAKU session for parent-child dialogue at 9201 Gallery, 8 groups took part in the workshop. 

Elementary school students painted pictures on the theme of "My heart/soul", while middle school students and adults painted "What I Value".
It was a chance for the kids and mothers to feel and get to know each through the artworks which captured what's inside their hearts. 
The mothers got a glimpse of their kids' unfettered thoughts, while the kids had the chance to see a side of their mothers they don't usually see through their candid expressions and words. 

Theme: Elementary school students "My heart/soul" / Middle school students〜adults 
"What I Value"
Program overview: EGAKU Program
Participants: 8 adults, 8 children
Venue: White Ship -Office & 9201 Gallery-
Organizer: Wonderlab
Instructor: Kunihiko Yazawa
Facilitators: Kimi Hasebe
Staff: Yoshino Kuwahara, Kazuhiro Minami, Ryoko Nakamura


Takaban Elementary School of Meguro Ward

Every year we run the EGAKU Program at Takaban Elementary School - this year we had 24 children taking part in the workshop, painting their hearts, their souls. 

In the spirit of the summer holidays, the kids seemed restless and excited at first - however, as soon as Professor Kuni started the class, everyone fell silent, listening carefully. 

When they started painting, they were completely immersed in their own world. I wonder what color my heart is? I wonder what kind of place it is? They completed their works all the time wrestling with these questions. 

During the final presentation of the paintings, despite their nerves they presented the titles of their works with confidence. Please take a look at these 24 masterpieces. 

Theme: My heart/soul
Program overview: EGAKU Program
Participants: 24 elementary school students
Venue: Takaban Elementary School of Meguro Ward
Host institution: Yume plan Takaban
Instructor: Kunihiko Yazawa
Facilitator: Sae Shirasaki
Staff: Kimi Hasebe, Yoshino Kuwahara, Ryoko Miyamoto, Ryoko Nakamura 


HLAB Obuse

We held the EGAKU Program at a summer school hosted by HLAB - a program run by under-graduates from Harvard University and other universities for high school students - in Obuse, Nagano Prefecture. The theme of the workshop: “Your Created Future – What You Value.” 

Despite being a large scale, lively workshop with 82 high school students and university students participating, the group exercise appreciating each others’ paintings gave everyone the opportunity to really get to know each other. 

So what did these students - our hope for the future - takeaway from this experience of creating something from nothing? 
"I had a chance to re-examine myself. Through this experience, I discovered what I want to do in the future – and I never want to forget my will." 
"It made me think I want to believe in myself - without limits, that’s how I want to live my life."
"It made me think, that in order to get closer to my ideal world, first I need to change."
"It made me think I want to become a person who has multiple perspectives – who isn’t  constrained by biases." 
"When communicating my opinions to others, I realized the importance of really putting my heart into it."
"It made me think now all I have to do is to charge ahead to my dream."
"I didn't know the house members very well, so I was so happy to be able to observe their process from the workshop. I hope to deepen my relationship with housemates in the future."
"I want to do this sometime later again with the same theme and to see what I think at that time."

Theme: Your Created Future - What You Value
Program overview: EGAKU Program
Participants: 82 high school students and university students from Harvard University and other universities
Venue: Obuse Town Hall
Host institution: Obuse x Summer School by HLAB
Instructor: Kunihiko Yazawa
Facilitator: Kimi Hasebe
Interpreter: Ryoko Nakamura
Staff: Atsunori Hiraga, Yoshino Kuwahara


UTokyo Innovation Summer Program

We ran an EGAKU session again this year for a group of students from Tokyo University, and students gathered from universities around the world as part of the UTokyo Innovation Summer Program (TISP).

The theme of the workshop was 'The Leader in Me.'

Participants were completely immersed in the task of painting for over an hour, intently giving expression to their innermost thoughts. While each participant had their own rich and distinctive perspective on leadership, the workshop was also an opportunity to learn about others - a platform for dialogue enabling the creation of deeper and more meaningful connections with one another. 

In the discussion at the end, participants shared their key discoveries and takeaways from the workshop: 
"The biggest thing I learned was the importance of perspective. How much I care about where people are coming from in terms of experience end obstacles – these kinds of factors influence the leader we are today."
"I will ensure I give other people more of a chance before expecting to know everything about them. Also, taking longer to deliberate on my thoughts."
"I discovered that leadership means different things to different people and that it can also be impressed visually in pictures and not solely in written mission statements."

Theme: The Leader in Me
Program overview: EGAKU Program
Participants: 12 university students, graduate students
Venue: Tokyo University International Komaba Lodge, Tokyo
Facilitator: Kimi Hasebe
Interpreter: Mayuka Yamazaki
Staff: Miho Kawasaki, Yoshino Kuwahara, Ryoko Miyamoto, Ryoko Nakamura 
Photography/Video: Naoki Yamada


Three Schools Joint EGAKU - Part 1

We recently held an EGAKU session at Kaetsu Ariake Junior & Senior High School. We had 23 participants including 5 junior high school students, 11 senior high school students, and 7 teaching staff from 3 schools -
Kaetsu Ariake Junior & Senior High SchoolSeigakuin Junior & Senior High SchoolFujimigaoka High School for Girls.

The theme of the workshop was "Your Created Future - What you value."
We asked participants to express in pictures the future they want to create, and the core values guiding their vision.

Participants engaged in a 'seeing'/'appreciation' exercise in groups of 5 to 6 - it was an opportunity for students and teachers to work together and freely share their thoughts and feelings. The students who were chosen as group facilitators seemed to enjoy the challenge of taking a more active role in the workshop.

So what did the students have to say about their experience?
"Painting pictures really isn't my thing, but hearing that there's no right or wrong made me like painting."
"It made me think I should value my sensibilities more."
"It was chance to really get to know others ."
"If I get another chance, I'd love to explore my feelings, my heart more through painting." 

Theme: The Future I Want to Create - What I Value
Program overview: EGAKU Program
Participants: 23 junior and senior high school students and teachers from Kaetsu Ariake Junior & Senior High School, Seigakuin Junior & Senior High School, Fujimigaoka High School for Girls
Venue: Kaetsu Ariake Junior and Senior High School
Instructor: Kunihiko Yazawa
Facilitator: Kimi Hasebe
Staff: Yoshino Kuwahara, Ryoko Nakamura


Sekimachi Kita Elementary School of Nerima Ward

Every year we run a series of EGAKU sessions at Sekimachi Kita Elementary School and last month we held a workshop for students from grades 3-6. 

We were impressed by the sight of the students intently hanging on to Professor Kuni's words as he spoke about how man has been painting for 30,000 years, how 'seeing' a painting is a window to your heart and to the hearts of your friends. 

At the end, during the presentation of everyone's works, everyone was bursting with curiosity, eager to discover each other's 'hearts' - there were even cheers when some poetic titles were read out. 

Next month we will be running a workshop for Grades 1-2.  We wonder what kind of workshop it will turn out to be, and what kind of 'hearts' will emerge. 

Theme: My heart/soul
Program overview: EGAKU Program
Participants: 22 elementary school students, Grades 3-6
Venue: Sekimachi Kita Elementary School, Nerima Ward, Tokyo
Host institution: Midori-no-kaze Hiroba
Instructor: Kunihiko Yazawa
Facilitator: Kimi Hasebe
Staff: Yoshino Kuwahara, Ryoko Nakamura


Minato Municipal Aoyama Junior High School@Google

We held a special 'Technology x Art' EGAKU Program in collaboration with Google Tokyo Office staff. During the first part of this event students were given an office tour of Google Tokyo office and then participated in a lecture on the latest technologies being developed at Google. In the second part, we asked everyone to reflect on what they had seen and heard at Google so far and to paint their stories of the 'future'. 
In the EGAKU session participants were challenged to think about the kind of society, the kind of future they want to create - the students responded to this question by creating paintings that reflected their passionate beliefs and careful thought. As each of them stood up to talk about their painting and the story behind it, the extent of their fertile imaginations and bold and generous hopes for the future shone through. There were even a few exclamations of wonder - "Wow!"s - from the students themselves.

Theme: My Created Future - What I Want to Continue Valuing
Program overview: Google Office Tour, EGAKU Program
Participants: 14 middle school students, Grades 1-3 from Minato Municipal Aoyama Junior High School, Minatoku, Tokyo 
Venue: Google Tokyo Office, Tokyo
Instructor: Kunihiko Yazawa
Facilitator: Kimi Hasebe
Staff: Sae Shirasaki, Ryoko Nakamura 
Photography/Video: Naoki Yamada


HLAB Obuse Executive Committee

We hosted a workshop for the Executive Committee behind the Obuse x Summer School by HLAB. The team members were student volunteers gathered from various universities. 

A moment of self introspection - each of them making a series of decisions involving 'colors' and 'shapes' to paint their response to the question: "What do you value most (in life)?" Connecting with the self, connecting with others - and through the process understanding themselves and understanding others. As they start the new academic year, perhaps these paintings - reflecting so many thoughts, hopes, emotions - will be a source of inspiration. 

Theme: What I Value
Program overview: EGAKU Program
Participants: 12 undergraduate students from various universities 
Venue: White Ship -Office & 9201 Gallery-
Host institution: HLAB Obuse Executive Committee
Instructor: Kunihiko Yazawa
Facilitator: Kimi Hasebe
Staff: Yoshino Kuwahara, Ryoko Nakamura