Pictures At An Exhibition
"Pictures At An Exhibition" is an experiential group activity that helps participants explore the concepts of change and loss as well as the ways in which they cope with them in their lives.
This group exercise aims to help the participants self-explore and self-reflect on how they view and handle the concepts of change and loss in their lives, as well as to encourage them to give a positive and optimistic meaning to these concepts. It is especially useful when working with young people who have experience loss and dramatic changes in their lives, but is also helpful for any young person to embrace change as a positive element of life.
The tool is based on the methodology of experiential learning and art therapy.
The group forms a circle, the art materials are put in the middle, and each participant is asked to draw a picture that will in the end be featured in an art exhibition. When the time given is up (approx. 10 ') , the participants are asked to put their drawing in the middle of the circle and circulate around the room to appreciate everyone's work.
They are then sitted down again and asked to pass their drawing to the person sitting on their right. Then their instruction is to "alter" or "destroy" the picture in their hands (depending on whether the focus of the exercise is more on change or loss). They can do so in any way they like, without any further instructions, and then they have to return the picture to its original owner (approx. 10').
The participants are then asked to do what they can to restore their altered/destroyed picture (approx. 10'). Afterwards the participants again walk around the room to observe how the pictures have changed.
They are sitted down again and now their instructions are to alter/destroy their own pictures (10'), followed again by the instruction to restore them afterwards (10;).
They do one last circulation around the room to see the end result of the "exhibition" and are then encouraged to self-reflect and share with the group their feelings throughout the process and what they have learned from it. The discussion is facilitated by encouraging them to think about how they felt, how they reacted, how they tried to restore the pictures, the difference between the picture being destroyed by someone else oy by themselves. Feedback between the participants is welcomed and encouraged as long as it is not judgemental.
Blank sheets of paper - one for each participant
Drawing and painting materials (preferably dry materials, e.g. coloured pencils, coloured markers, crayons) - one of each set
Scissors - one for each participant
Glue - one for each participant
Experience shows that most people share initial negative feelings about the change/loss they experienced, but almost everyone is in the end enthusiastic about the end result, views change/loss as a process that leads to something new and more enhanced, and has deeper understanding of how they deal with change/loss in their lives.
I have implemented this excercise with children, adolescents, young refugees, psychotherapy students and Erasmus+ training participants. The tool has proven generally effective, especially in cases of people/groups who have experienced intense changes in their lives.
However, due to the fact that the feelings that can be evoked are intense, I would not recommend using this tool with a group that has just been formed. It requires a climate of safety and trust, and therefore it would be better to implement it after a few sessions with the same group, or with a group that has already achieved a good level of team-bonding.
Since it is an experiential learning tool, I think it would be best to implement it rather than just present it.
I estimate that the implementation as well as the feedback from the participants will take approximately 2 hours.
DISCLAIMER: SALTO-YOUTH EuroMed cannot be held responsible for the inappropriate use of these training tools. Always adapt training tools to your aims, context, target group and to your own skills! These tools have been used in a variety of formats and situations. Please notify SALTO-YOUTH EuroMed should you know about the origin of or copyright on this tool.