Online Expressive Arts workshops

Hello friends and artists! I invite you to my online Expressive Arts Therapy workshop October 30 at 16:00 Central European time, Amsterdam 4:00pm. There are many excellent sessions offered by experienced Expressive Arts Practitioner for you to try!! Take advantage of this opportunity!! Please have your favorite art materials handy for the online sessions.  Here is the link to sign up:

Masks 🎭

Expressive Arts did its magic nurturing the human soul in great company! I’m so grateful! 🙏❤️ The mask process allowed us to Tame the Inner Critic & Strength the Inner Supporter! Who doesn’t need that? 😃🎨🎭🎼🎸💕❤️❤️💕 #expressivearts #expressiveartstherapy #art #maskart #arte

Latino cARTographies: Mapping the Past, Present and Future of Houston’s Latino Art

“What an amazing event tonight organized by the Center for Mexican American and Latino/a Studies at the University of Houston the grand unveiling of Latino cARTographies: Mapping the Past, Present and Future of Houston’s Latino Art!!!! I am one of the Latino artists included. So inspired, moved and proud! Big thanks to Dr. Pamela Anne Quiroz and her amazing team!” 

Video and quote by Latina Houston artist Lorena Fernandez, Ph.D. 


(You can also use this great technic to become aware about your skills. Simply write or tell a short story about a small, recent thing you did and analyze it looking for the skills you used.)

Story 1: Post-pandemic Welcome Breakfast

When the pandemic was winding down in Amsterdam after the summer of 2021, there was nobody who wanted to be the representative for the Hispanic Community in the international school where my youngest daughter was a student. I decided to volunteer because I couldn’t stand the idea of us having no representative. After that, three other women from Spain also volunteered to help me out.

We were only talking on Zoom, still, because it was right after the pandemic lock-downs and everyone was traumatized about nearly two years of not being able to meet. The kids had to do school at home online. However, the Dutch government had just allowed restaurants to open.

I wanted to bring the Hispanic community together in a place that felt safe, a big space with good ventilation. My good friend’s husband is the general manager in the Hilton at Schiphol in Amsterdam, so I ask her if it was possible to get a good deal for our community. I really wanted to have a beautiful space that was clean and felt safe, because there was a lot of fear and nervousness around Corona virus.

So, our volunteer team of three Spaniards and one Venezuelan (me) began telling the Hispanic community online about the Welcome Breakfast at the Hilton, so they would buy tickets. 

There was a problem though, in my team, there was a woman who didn’t like having this Welcome Breakfast at the Hilton because it required a fee, and before the pandemic the breakfast had been free at the school cafeteria. However, because of corona virus the school cafeteria was off limits for parents. Still, in her so-called promotion this woman said that there was going to be another breakfast that would be free.

In reality, a free breakfast was an impossibility because the school was not allowing anyone to enter the cafeteria. The other possibility to do it free would be in somebody’s house, but no one wanted to go to somebody’s house because the space was small and it felt dangerous. I felt that by her promising a free welcome breakfast later, she would discourage people from signing up to this opportunity to be together, get to know each other and join the community in a well ventilated, safe space.

So I told her. I said, “When and where is your free breakfast? I want my money back from this one I’m planning, so that I can go to your free breakfast. Where is it going to be?” I was quite sarcastic and not very nice in the way I was texting her in our group chat. After I explained that promising this imaginary future breakfast would sabotage attendance to the real breakfast coming up. She got upset and the following day she said that she was not going to work with us anymore because I said that she was sabotaging this breakfast. This created an unpleasant energy in our group.

The next day she said she couldn’t work with me because I had offended her by saying that she was sabotaging, so she quit the team. Now we were only three people left, one who worked elsewhere full time, so she really couldn’t spend much time with us, the treasurer, and me. I regretted the way I handled the situation. There was a better way to explain it; a kind and compassionate way to put my message across. And maybe she really didn’t understand that promising a free event exactly like the one she was promoting where people are paying 30 euros would sabotage attendance.

At that time, I was alone in Amsterdam, both my daughter and husband were traveling. I had nobody to offer me emotional support.

A week before the event I fell down the stairs and hurt my back, but it was not too bad. Still, I could feel some pain and it was uncomfortable. I felt like, “I’m going to go over there and host this event injured and enduring these bad emotions inside my working team.”  Only one of the other volunteers was going to be there, the treasurer, to pay the fee for the event.

So, nearly 30 people attended, almost the whole community. As Master of Ceremony, I welcomed everyone and guided them in introducing themselves. I said things that would encourage them as the city was opening again after repeated lock-downs. I used humor to make people comfortable. I kept order so everyone could hear what each person was saying about who they were, how long they’ve been in Amsterdam, how many kids they had, etcetera.

After that some people had to leave early, but we took pictures of most of the group and everyone had a really beautiful time. In the Hispanic Community Group Chat many people posted messages saying that it had been a joy and a pleasure to attend, that it was a beautiful event, that they had felt welcome in Amsterdam and in the international school and that they were grateful to have such a warm and welcoming community.

In conclusion, it was a success. And you can see that happiness in the smiles in the pictures. People really needed to come together, to feel welcome and to reconnect with other people. After nearly two years when we couldn’t gather anywhere, the space at the Hilton was clean, open, and beautiful. Also, the food was excellent. So, it was a total success.

Learnings about my Skills and Resources

  1. I learned the importance of my network.  I have lots of friends and connections, like my friends at the Hilton in Amsterdam, and reaching out to them can help in getting a beautiful result.
  • I learned that I should be diplomatic as much as possible. I learned not to be sarcastic with people I’m working with. I made a mistake there. Find a diplomatic way to convey my message, as much as possible.
  • I learned that I am resilient in adversity. If someone is trying to sabotage (even without knowing it consciously) and if the people I’m working with have negative emotions, I can still push forward and provide an amazing event.
  • I learned that I am a good Master of Ceremonies. I know how to lead a group and how to help them feel comfortable, happy and welcome by whatever institution or community I am representing.

Come to my Expressive Arts workshop at the online EXPRESSIVE THERAPIES SUMMIT 2022

Sign up here

I want to invite you to my session and all the Expressive Arts session taking place at the EXPRESSIVE THERAPIES SUMMIT October 28-30th! The link is here.

The title of my presentation is Expressive Arts for Sense-Making in Situations of Complexity and Ambiguity.

I want to show that the Expressive Arts Practice is a systemic intervention. As a human being, you are a Complex Adaptive System. That means that there are many aspects or parts to the person you are, and these aspects are interconnected and interdependent, and they can learn and adapt.

Expressive Arts is helpful because you can explore these different aspects and deal with the embodied energetic changes that happen in situations of complexity and ambiguity. These situations involve CHANGE in your environment or within yourself.

Some examples of these situations are: that you are moving to a different country, that you are changing jobs, that you are now single and used to be married, or that you have become an empty nester. Those are situations of complexity and ambiguity because the actions you will take have to do with the person you are or want to become.

So, new and different aspects of your identity will enter into action, and some old elements will be left behind or released because they are no longer relevant in your new “Here and Now.” 

An easy way to describe your situation for an Expressive Arts Session is in the shape of a question, for example: How will I conduct my life now that I am an empty-nester and moving to a different country and stay balanced, productive, fully engaged, vibrant, and create community?

With Expressive Arts, instead of avoiding or pushing away the powerful emotions that arise due to change, (such as fear, or paralysis from internal obstacles, like your inner critic,) you can feel these emotions while being supported by the art activity until the emotions leave your body spontaneously.

Different aspects of yourself can surface when you create art about the current situation in a very organic and fully embodied way with expressive arts. When working with a painting, a dance, or playing a drum, you can feel those feelings and not suppress them or push them aside.

You may discover that you feel exhausted in the middle of your painting because your inner perfectionist is saying that if it’s not going to be perfect, then don’t bother doing this. This message is a discovery you can translate into your life because what you say to yourself during an Expressive Arts session and daily life is interconnected and interdependent.

Your strategies are self-similar in a fractal pattern. The mental strategies you apply for your very intimate life are also the ones you use for your more public, expanded life. As a systemic approach, Expressive Arts can allow you to see them in LIVE ACTION.

Within the art-making, you can feel and observe the energy fluctuations that can make you feel afraid, paralyzed or frozen when facing changes in your life. Without awareness or consciousness about these fluctuations, you could stay there for a while. But if you have a solid Expressive Arts practice, you’re better able to express and discover these energy fluctuations, understand them and let them go. Expressive Arts as a systemic intervention shortens the time of clinging to outdated strategies and values that no longer serve you in your new situation.

Practical Description 

In the three-hour workshop, I will briefly introduce the perspective that expressive arts is a systemic intervention that allows you to see your patterns in Live Action. These patterns repeat across different areas of life, like Fractal patterns. We, humans, are complex adaptive systems with many interconnected parts, interdependent, and capable of learning.

what will transpire during the workshop

After that short presentation, we will pose our question that is most alive in us at this moment, or that we want to work on or investigate. 

For example: “How can I advance my career and maintain flexibility and joy?

So, you bring your question and write it down carefully, and then we’ll set it aside for the moment.

And then, we will have a short physical movement intervention in which we will talk about our inner critic and what the inner critic has to say about our question. What

messages does it have? For example, “what you want is impossible,” or “it’s not important,” or “just be normal.”

whatever the inner critic has to say, we will write it down.

And then we’ll stand up and do our moving meditation about the inner supporter. We will consider what the inner supporter has to say about our question. Maybe “you can do it “or “be patient and keep striving.” “your desire is the way,” “connect with people,” “People want to help you make this happen,” “don’t worry. It’s going to be fine. If you get tired, take a rest, recover, and then come back out again.”

“I will protect you. I will protect your vision for this work. I will protect your interests. I will help you.”

The inner protector can have many different messages and many different looks.

So it’s interesting to try on also what you hear from somebody else in the workshop. What another person’s inner protector is telling them could be something your protector will be inspired by and want to say to you as well.

After we have done this moving meditation, we will capture some phrases from the inner critic and the inner protector. So we understand who we’re dealing with.

Then we go back to our question. We open it up again.

“how will I advance my career and be guided by joy?”

Now we make spontaneous art, a drawing or a painting, whatever your body wants to create, so go for it.

Thirty minutes to draw to paint, and then we’ll have 10 minutes to write freely about this topic.

And we will include in the writing completing the sentences “I am…” and “I feel….”

And also, 

“Although my inner critic says these things, out of fear…”

“My inner supporter says these other things out of a more comprehensive vision, out of courage, out of a broader picture, out of the desire to contribute to others…”  or, you know, whatever are the drivers of your inner supporter.

what tools/skills will be taught/explored

1. Use of the question approach.

2. Explore the inner critic and inner supporter with movement and text in a group setting

3. An artwork that will offer a wider perspective regarding the answer to your question.

Lorena Fernandez, Ph.D.

Art Revealed Texas Capitol building exhibition

Dancing Human Network

Here I invite you to commemorate the 5th Anniversary of the tragic shooting at the Pulse nightclub that took away 49 precious souls. These photos are about an art exhibition at the Capitol building in Austin Texas. 

My heart is broken from senseless gun violence, discrimination against the LGBTQ community, discrimination against black and brown people, discrimination for any reason.  My broken heart feels helpless in stopping these devastating human problems. So when my friend Texas photographer Renee Rodriguez invited me to participate in this Remembrance tribute I thought it was a spiritual opportunity to offer my art to our suffering human hearts. To help us notice our shared humanity.

There might be superficial differences but what we have in common is much larger, deeper, and more important than our differences. I want us to reconnect with the torrent of love underneath our feelings of separation and hate.

I empathize with each of the 49 souls that lost their lives because I am a dancer and music lover. I am a person of color. I have beloved friends and family that belong to the LGBTQ community. These souls were there to dance, enjoy music, and enjoy other humans in community. Those actions are sacred to me. They are deep spiritual needs for our species from the beginning of time. The Pulse 49 souls were attacked in that space of art, self-expression, dance, creativity, and love. I want to express my grief for the suffering they experienced and my love for their memory, and for the families and friends left behind with broken hearts.

As my tribute I created a sculpture, a dancing human Network, to show that we are interconnected, interdependent, and stand together on the same feet. 

That is our beauty. 

We, humans must stand together, cherish our differences, rejoice in our diversity, join together in art, music, dance, technology, medicine, conservation, entertainment, the bounty of our human tribe, and our human hearts. That is what I wanted to express with my art. The exhibit will be at the Rotunda of the Capitol building from June 12 to 18 2021. I hope you get a chance to see  the tributes offered by us, five women in Texas. 

PULSE Nightclub Texas Tribute Art

This is a video introduction to artist Lorena Fernandez and her involvement with  PULSE/49: A Texas Remembrance Exhibition.  It is also a message of peace, unity and love. 

Please follow @pulse49txrem on Instagram and join our private group to see and learn about the latest project that my art team @reneerodriguezfineartphoto  @fineart_shawna  @mitchdarte @nanettesandoval and I have been dedicated to for the past year,collaboratively ! We are so humbly excited to exhibit our heartfelt works dedicated to the lives of 49 souls that are gone way too soon as we approach the 5 year anniversary of the PULSE Nightclub tragedy. We hope you will follow our page and journey  as we will be exhibiting these works in Austin, Texas at the State Capitol!  Works on exhibit June 11-17.

@reneerodriguezfineartphoto  @fineart_shawna  @mitchdarte @nanettesandoval @lorenafernandezarts

Native Roots

Hello dear Friends! I want to share with you my painting, rattling, and humming moving meditation, which is a kind of “coming out” and, therefore, does feel vulnerable. First, let me tell you the Native story that inspired this painting:

According to the tradition of the Mirripuye Indians who are part of my ancestral heritage, and inhabited my birthplace, the Venezuelan Andes Mountains, Caribay was the first woman. She was the daughter of the fiery Zuhé (the Sun) and the pale Chía (the Moon). She was the genius of the aromatic forests. She could run over the mountains as fast as the crystalline waters of the streams. She imitated the song of all the birds. One late afternoon Caribay saw five enormous white eagles flying through the sky and she fell in love with their beauty, enormous size, and sparkling white feathers. She ran after them, crossing valleys and mountains, always following the shadows that the birds drew upon the ground. She finally reached the top of a cliff from which she saw how the eagles descended on peaks higher still. Caribay wanted to adorn herself with those rare and splendid feathers and she ran up towards the eagles to get them, but when she was finally able to touch them she was surprised by the cold of the glacial feathers. The eagles were frozen, turned into five huge, shining masses of ice. Shortly afterward the Moon was darkened by the clouds and the five eagles woke up from their frozen trance and flapped their wings and the whole mountain was adorned with their white plumage. This is the origin of the snow-capped mountains of my hometown in Mérida, Venezuela. The five white eagles adorn the five towering Snowy Peaks that surround my city. They are called: Pico Bolívar, Pico Humboldt, Pico el Toro, Pico el León and Pico la Concha. This story has influenced my own life in different ways at different times in my personal and spiritual journey.

I’m becoming more public about my native heritage after age 50. The topic never came up before or perhaps I was conforming to the dominant culture, perhaps it was internalized racism, so this was kept somewhat private. (I’m Mestiza. My heritage is Southern European, Native American, and West African, I’m originally from Venezuela.) My Native self has always been part of my spiritual life. At 4 years old I learned the story of Caribay and the Five White Eagles and how they related to my birthplace and where I grew up in the Andes Mountains of Venezuela. I have had the story in my heart since then and dance to it often. I did share it occasionally, particularly with my Expressive Arts community who cared about the emotional and spiritual life.

Now Native things are becoming so mainstream in the culture at large that I have been called by the younger generation to take my place as an elder. For years I have felt a bit guilty about not offering enough spiritual support, although I have been teaching Expressive Arts for many years but always avoiding the spiritual language. That has changed in this year of planetary transition. Now I have become completely certain and solid regarding my path as a spiritual Expressive Arts elder. Now, even when I have not turned at all on my path, (I have Only walked forward) I see myself taking my responsibility as an elder of the human tribe. I certainly will not push myself, as I am unable to conform to velocity requirements from other people, but this thing is just happening organically and I am just open to it. So this painting and rattling came through depicting the 5 white Eagles, the Sierra Nevada de Merida Venezuela, the Mother Moon, the Father Sun, and a daughter of the First Woman. I don’t plan what I will paint so that I have a spontaneous channel that my deepest, highest self can use to send messages to my awareness. This is such a message. To me this is a clear sign of my entering spirituality in a deeper way now, integrating more of the beings that I really am, and willing to share that with my human tribe.

Yes, my Mirripuye / Timotocuica roots have been part of my life since I was 4 because my grandfather danced with me and I was given the stories, but it has been lonely because the tribes were completely assimilated and the thousands of Mestizos like me haven’t really had access to a lot of the knowledge from that part of our heritage. And also there has been internalized racism, of course. This is a step in finding ways to honor all of me, which translates into being able to love and cherish others in their totality. My heritage is Mirripuye, Timotocuica, Spanish, and West African. Interestingly I have taken part in Djembe drumming for years before I knew that it is a drum from West Africa!! Also, I have been collaborating with the Flamenco Poets Society of Houston for years, that part of my heritage was better known by me. I love to embody both the oppressed and the oppressor. That is a perfect metaphor for the ways how I have oppressed myself at times and a road map to liberating myself.  I am very thankful for having this life opportunity exactly as it has been in so many ways! I look forward to increasing my knowledge about the parts of myself that have been oppressed by my adaptation to the dominant culture. I rejoice in seeing a change in that dominant culture thanks to the youth of our time, and movements like BLM ✊🏿 and MeToo that aid in awakening from my own internalized sexism and racism. These are interesting times and I rejoice in the opportunity to see and to somehow in my small way help us humans move forward!! Love and light my dear friends! 😘❤️ Thanks for listening. 🙏

The whale protector

The whale is symbolic of that which cannot be easily subjugated— just as a person’s inner truth, voice, and creativity cannot be easily silenced. But still… there is vulnerability and the need for protection. Protect your inner truth, voice, and creativity. Be on your side. Express Yourself. ❤️🌷 ⁣

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