"I find the reflection of human inner spirit from imperfection, impermanence, and transformation of materials through contemplation and meditation. I explore the relationship between mindfulness and art practices in my creative research."
Ng Ka Sum
Interview with Artist
Ms Ng Ka Sum, The Education University of Hong Kong
Ms Ng Ka Sum applies mindfulness elements in her drawing and painting courses. Students are dominant in exploring themselves and their works in a student-centered learning approach. Beyond the classroom, students are engaged in my research in a community project, The Sense of Art Project which is funded by ‘Visual Arts Education and Community Development Project’(VAECD), in which they are the ‘student-teachers’ to design, develop and organize a series of mindfulness art workshops for SEN students. The project provides students the experiential learning opportunities to teach mindfulness art in school.
The Sense of Art represents the human body's five senses and the sense of accomplishment, creativity, and nature. This project aims to provide different sensory art experiences to schools and communities. We hope that participants can learn art skills from our mindful art workshops, enjoy a sense of accomplishment and strengthen their creativity through the expression of media.
In mindful art, people can express their feelings, calm their emotions, and transform anxiety and confusion into inspiration and energy for creation through contemplation, meditation, and creation derived from the five senses. The programme will teach students to create artwork and facilitate them to express their inner feelings and self-medicate in their daily lives through mindful art activities such as hanging wind chimes and painting Zentangle.
The target groups of this project mainly include primary and special school students. We launched a series of mindful art workshops in the summer of 2022. These workshops were designed starting with a mindful breathing practice. Artworks and art practices were introduced while students were formed into groups. We encouraged students to express themselves without judgment. Students were satisfied with the process and their artwork. Students' works will be presented in an exhibition in Hong Kong to share the project outcomes of mindful art.
Mindful art adds new perspectives to the lessons of special needs students. We develop lesson plans from these art workshops. After completing each workshop, we reflected and revised the teaching content according to student learning abilities. We received advice from an art therapist and helped special school teachers to incorporate therapeutic art elements and mindful art practices in their regular classrooms. Teachers can integrate these workshop activities into the school based on the needs of their students.
Students' Reflections of the Project
'Having the experience of feeling nature, beauty, color, and different senses, the six workshops with special needs students brought me a fabulous sense of satisfaction in art. Although there are some difficulties with their levels of special needs students, our group encounters them through many discussions with teachers and among groupmates. As art students, we care a lot about the outcome of the artwork or production. Still, we found out that the most important outcome was the satisfaction and happiness of the workshop participants. It is how the sense of artwork when every student focuses on their artwork without judgment and full of passion.'
'This project has enabled me to learn different crafts and provided a valuable opportunity to teach and interact with students with special educational needs. We have found that incorporating different sensory-solid experiences into the teaching attracts the students' interests and attention. For example, while making the Oshibana, they could touch various plants. However, we need to balance flexibility and classroom management for the workshop to run successfully and for the safety of the students. During the activities, because of students' different learning difficulties, there were significant individual differences among them. Some of them were weaker in their manual abilities, so we simplified some steps and gave more support to make them easier. While some completed the tasks quickly, we gave extra practice to match their level. I got to know them better this month, and they are very kind and creative. I hope this project will enable the public to see the potential of these students. Finally, I thank all the teachers who helped us with this project.'
'This project enables SEN students to experience different sensory experiences through artistic expression and get emotional and physical relief.
In this project, I met different types of Sen students, saw their creativity, and the rarest thing was that I had the opportunity to teach them. Among them, I had an unforgettable teaching experience. One of the students only had 5% eyesight, but she was more attentive to creating art than the other students. Of course, her works were also beautifully done. In this matter, I think SEN students are trying very hard to do everything and see their creativity.'
'To reassure the special needs students always to make them smile, our team, "The Sense of Art," has been keen to promote different sense experiences with art workshops. This summer, we cooperated with a special needs school to organize a series of art activities and lesson plans, hoping to improve SEN students' comfort in an enjoyable learning environment. Let me quote a word to describe the workshop, "Understanding". We had met many problems in our teaching. But we found that the root of the issues is not considerate enough to think from SEN students' point of view. Understanding is crucial. When we can consider thoughts and difficulties for the sake of SEN, I can see they can "play in a harmonious atmosphere and relaxing feeling". Thank you for the great experience and lesson for the students and me.'
'Before starting this project, I had never had experience caring for children with special needs. There were a lot of worries in the beginning. They cannot express themselves verbally, and it is hard to guess what they think. However, it turns out we don't need any words to bond. They were more genuine than most people I have ever known. Although it is just a 6-day workshop, I will never forget my time with them. I believe that these students will become incredible people in the future.'