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Westchester Artist Explores “What Matters?” to Local Communities

Since being awarded an Arts Alive grant from ArtsWestchester in 2013, Lana Yu’s “What Matters?” project has take on a life of its own within Peekskill and its surrounding communities. Arts Alive grants are awarded to projects that engage the community; and indeed Yu’s project has engaged with many since its inception, and continues to do so. The project began as a community-built mural for which Yu gathered answers to the question “What Matters?” from hundreds of people of diverse ages and backgrounds. The resulting mural transcribes some of the most universal and compelling English and Spanish words that people shared.

Since then, Yu has organized free workshops of varying topics to engage diverse pockets of people within the community. Says Yu: “The project started out as a contemplative process where these people were invited to take a moment out of their busy lives to consider the larger meaning of life … and the workshops extend this process by further engaging people to express their values through words, pictures, movement, music and drama.”

During workshops in Peekskill throughout this Women’s History Month, Yu asks about “What Matters to Women of the World?” at varying stages of life. Women of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to share and discuss their thoughts, culminating in a performance for the community. Another set of workshops (on Wednesdays through April 5 at the Ossining Public Library) encourage “intergenerational collages,” which aim to demonstrate that older and younger generations can find common interests through the arts. Participants will make a multimedia mural that results in shared memories and connections made across generations. A family theater workshop will create performance pieces through improvisation as they explore what matters to their families and in their relationships with each other. For more info on upcoming workshops, visit: lanayu.net.

A version of this article first appeared in the March 2017 issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews

Image above: Artwork from collage workshop (photo courtesy of Lana Yu)

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