Lorena Pinasco, one of our first members on DADA, is an artist who lives in Holland and teaches sculpture. But since her small town received 250 Syrian refugees, she decided to lend a hand. She volunteered to help 15 Syrian refugee children to adapt to their new country and to heal the trauma of their war-torn exile through art.
Even though language is a barrier, as the refugees don’t yet speak Dutch, and Lorena does not speak Arabic, they find a common ground through art. “At the beginning, I thought the language barrier would be a problem, but now I don’t even notice it anymore. With art, you don’t need to say anything.”, Lorena says. “I show the kids what they are about to do and the moment the kids see the paper and the pencils and paints, their big eyes open wide. If at the beginning, the kids seemed inhibited, they get very happy when they see the results of their colorful work”.
For Lorena, this is a way to take the kids away from their context of dislocation, anxiety, loss and fear if only for an hour, during which, like all artists, they can be their deepest selves. Being an immigrant herself (from Argentina, by choice), she knows first hand how difficult it is to start life in a new country and to adapt to a new culture. She wants to provide a space where the kids can express themselves freely and they can experience peace and joy by painting. The workshop takes place in a repurposed office building, where the refugees currently live. Lorena wants the kids to have good memories from the place, which they will be leaving soon for more permanent housing.
Art is therapeutic. “This should be done, not only with refugees but with adults, troubled teenagers, everybody”, says Lorena. She wishes to “spread the value of art, not just of my art, but of art in general: it should be contagious. Art, music, dance, poetry: this is what the world needs now.”