Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Recorded music and player
- Long piece of mural paper and tape
- Paints, paintbrushes, containers for water and paints and clean-up supplies
- Newspaper or tarps to protect floor
- Optional: Color pastels, thick markers or other media
- Optional: Smocks or old tee-shirts to protect youth's clothing
Preparation for Activity
- Choose up to ten minutes of "soul" music to play for the group.
- You may like to use music from the soul genre. First, read up on why it is called "soul." The website History of Rock has a Soul Music page with a map of soul artists, links to many audio selections and this definition: "A merger of gospel-charged singing, secular subject matter, and funk rhythms, soul grew out of Fifties rhythm & blues, spurred by Ray Charles' eclectic, decidedly secular late-Fifties hits." Hear classic soul hits including Arthur Conley's "Sweet Soul Music," on the CD The Muscle Shoals Sound.
- Use songs with lyrics about the soul, such as "Song of the Soul" by Cris Williamson and two Unitarian Universalist hymns from Singing the Living Tradition, Hymn 108, "My Life Flows on in Endless Song," and Hymn 123, "Spirit of Life."
- Or, use music that touches your own soul.
- Protect surfaces under and near the mural with a tarp or newspaper.
- Decide where you can post enough mural paper so each youth can have some individual space on it and all can reach it. Post the mural paper.
- Set out supplies for painting and any other media.
Description of Activity
In this activity, youth use music and art to explore their souls. Introduce it with words like these:
A writer named Krista Tippett has said, "In many ways, religion comes from the same place in us that art comes from." Some people would say art comes from the soul. Other people might use a different word. They would say religion and art come from our centers, our cores, our deepest spirits, instead of our souls. But most would agree that both come from somewhere deep inside us. You may think of your deepest inner self as your soul, your center, your spirit-whatever you like. And I hope you will reach deep inside as you listen to music and let your art out onto a community mural.
Invite the youth to sit comfortably and listen to music you have chosen. Tell them they may, when they feel moved to, go to the mural paper and express themselves by drawing or making marks in a section of the mural paper. They can draw something realistic if that is what they feel like doing, or they can make abstract lines and figures-whatever their deepest, inner self wants to do. Ask them to work, without speaking, in their own section of the mural paper as the music continues.
Once all the youth have begun working in a section of the mural paper, ask them to step back and see if their deepest, inner self might like to move out of their section and connect to other places. Suggest they expand their art, out to the art of the next person and maybe the art of the next person beyond that. Tell them it is fine if everybody's art connects.
Give them a few minutes. Then, stop the music and ask everyone to stop drawing. Invite them to step back, without speaking, and look at the group's creation.
Ask participants to quietly put the art supplies away and resume their seats. Ask questions like these:
- What does the group think of its creation?
- How did the experience feel?
- Did youth sense that they were reaching into their soul or center and drawing out of that place? What did that feel like?
- How did the words or the tunes of the music work on them? Did anything in particular feel like it touched their inner self, their spirit, their soul?
- What was the act of connection like? Did they feel they were connecting at a deeper level than they usually do? If not, what got in the way? Was it self-consciousness about being in a group, creating together? If they made more such creations, would they become more open and comfortable expressing themselves together?
- Has this experience in any way changed their answer to today's Big Question, "Do I have a soul?" What is their answer at this point?
Including All Participants
Post the mural paper where all youth, including any with limited mobility, can draw on it.
A youth with limited sight can work creatively in their own space in a textured medium such as acrylic paint or wax crayon. Engage others to connect to the youth's work space, also using textured media and explaining what they are drawing as they do it.