The N-arts project, that was carried out with the students from the Faculty of Education, was interesting, challenging and successful, both for us facilitators and the participants. The main idea of the Project was implemented as the extra-curricular activity, with the aim of expanding professional, technical (artistic) skills and personal development.

Perhaps the biggest challenge was how to encourage participants to attend the workshops. There are very talented people among them, who do not display their artwork straightforwardly, mainly because of their own uncertainties in quality performance and fear of criticism. The workshop was not obligatory for participants, they all volunteered.

The number of participants increased from workshop to workshop, which is also an indication that they encouraged each other and invited others who initially did not dare to come. 

Even after the first workshops, there was a pleasant, relaxed and productive atmosphere, because the "vacuum" of their own insecurity had disappeared. Such empowerment is inspirational and encouraging for participants and facilitators alike.

Another indicator of the workshop success and the correct choice of technique (cell phones) is this example: a move away from the known and classical and to the contemporary medium that is close to them. The participants shared their individual and group work on their social media networks, proudly being able to do something like that. Some of them taught other friends, family members or even their own children this new technique.

The necessity of horizontal cooperation encouraged the participants to help each other and it gave them courage for all further actions: development of critical attitude, objective evaluation of their own work, independence, cooperation with colleagues and finding ways to solve problems (both professional and social). Although everyone was familiar with the task at the beginning, the participants realized that, in addition to learning new skills, they gained much more: applying new ideas in what they learned, not only for their future work, but even in private life (“I showed my mom a gif of animation, so she immediately wanted to learn how it works! She said ‘I am not too old for that’!"). 

Individuals mention in their interviews to have overcome the fear of presenting their own artistic skills, which has encouraged them further with their own artistic production; the time was well spent, learning something new that could be implemented in their future work (in schools and kindergarten).  

The N-arts project joined other successful projects of the Faculty of Education, specific due to its artistic nature. Unfortunately, there is very little art in Croatian education (only one lesson per week), so projects like these might be a good starting point for other similar actions – as an art workshop, or as a platform for lifelong learning and (self-)improvement.

We, the facilitators, are both educated and actively productive visual artist, not only art teachers. The N-arts project allowed us to share our own artistic skills, knowledge and experience with our participants. This created better and stronger connections between us teachers and participants. Artistic activity is a language that has no barriers or limitations like spoken language, class, economic or social differences seem to have. Although it is not real art therapy, its impact is therapeutic, relaxing, encouraging and empowering. After the workshops were completed, we were asked if there would be any other similar workshops, as those who asked would surely come, which speaks of the interest in further tasks, and the idea of spending their free time in this way.


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