Experiential Learning in Mexico City: A Multimodal Expressive Arts Workshop Summer 2015

Some of my most profound learning experiences have occurred in conjunction with travel, embedded in the experience of another culture. Among those experiences are travelling solo by bus through Ghana making photos and trying to understand the history of slavery and  where my ancestors came from; experiencing Semana Santa (Holy Week ) with friends in a tiny town in western Mexico, visiting a Oaxaca, Mexico and a papermaking collective in San Augustin Etla on the outskirts of the city and buying paper to make silver gelatin prints in the darkroom, and a photography seminar led by Mary Ellen Mark and Graciela Iturbide in the same city.

With those experiences in mind, my colleagues Marco Razo, Jesus Pastor, and Morgan Phillips-Spotts have planned an experiential Multimodal Expressive Arts workshop in Mexico City July 24-August 3,  2015. Here is a sample of the program:

Saturday July 25 – Breakfast at hotel or in neighborhood. Transfer to taller (workshop) in Tlalpan community (metro).

Multimodal Expressive Arts and Traditional Mexican Processes and Practices


Welcome and Orientation

Warm up Improvisation Exercises

Introduction to Rogerian Informed Multimodal Expressive Arts Theory

Lunch (On your own with neighborhood suggestions)


Introduction and exploration with papel picado

Introduction to Mexican Muralists and public expressions. Exploration of collaborative mural making.

Movement and Music

Final reflection written and voiced.

Dinner in Tlalpan or Coyoacan (to be decided)

Sunday, July 26

A Day with Frida and Diego

Breakfast in hotel or Coyoacan neighborhood

Mass and Cathedral Visit – we will experience the richness of ritual that deeply informed Frida Kahlo’s work and way of living. We will pay particular attention to the ofrendas and ex-votos that are traditional Mexican forms of Expressive Arts

Museo Anahuacalli – Diego Rivera Museum – We will experience Rivera’s mural and other work “in real life”.  We will discuss mural making including process and materials as we think about how these may be adapted to our work with our clients in our communities. We will also consider the ideas and historical context that informed Rivera’s work and his use of symbols

Lunch in Coyoacan

Casa Azul – The Frida Kahlo Museum – We will visit the home in which Frida lived and her studio where she created her work. Here we will get the sense of how the whole of her way of living was artistic expression. We will view and experience her artworks and the exhibition of  the works of other artists as well. We will pause and reflect in the garden she created with Rivera that is adorned with sculptures and examples of popular art.

Museo Nacional de las Acualeras (National Watercolor Museum)  – Here we will explore the varied ways watercolor paints have been used in artmaking and expression. We will talk about how these may be used in our Expressive work with clients and will prepare for further exploration with these materials in our Taller.

Afternoon in Coyoacan – Sundays in Coyoacan are very special. People come out to enjoy public spaces, to walk, enjoy music and performance artists, and to sample traditional foods like churros, breads, and candies. It is a great day for making photographs. Dinner in Coyocan.

Frida Kahlo’s art and spirit provided great inspiration for the workshop: the very personal and expressive elements in her art, her work around her experience of her own body, the way her work is informed by Mexican popular art and indigenous and ritual traditions, the materials she used, and the way creativity informed many aspects of the way she lived her life.

Thursday, July 30

A day in honor of Quetzalcoatl,the Aztec god of merchants, and of arts, crafts, and knowledge.


Full Day at the Sacred Aztec site of Teotihuacan with Guided Tour

Lunch at Teotihuacan

Dinner in Coyoacan

Friday, July 31

Day of Rituals Informed by Mexican Traditions and Popular Art

Reflection on the experience of Teotihuacan (Written and Voiced )

Retablo Making

Milagros Hoja de Metal creating expressive pieces using a process of making design of punched holes in a sheet of tin


Reflections and Expressions using movement.

Images here are of two of my favorite books about Kahlo by Salomon Grimberg who provides a psychoanalytically based interpretation of her work. Also an art piece made by an unidentified artist who uses the metalwork techniques we will learn in the workshop. I also include links to the film, Frida Still Life directed by Paul Le Duc. In the film, Frida reflects on vignettes that are glimpses of memories of her life.

Frida Kahlo Books Large


Frida Kahlo Art Piece Large


One thought on “Experiential Learning in Mexico City: A Multimodal Expressive Arts Workshop Summer 2015”

  1. I would like to register for your summer workshop in Mexico City – but I cannot find a registration form – only a syllabus. It sounds very exciting and I would love to tell my friends about it. Do you have a promotional flyer with details and a registration form for sending in a deposit? Thanks!

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