Social work program to co-sponsor “Autobiography Through Dollmaking” workshop

BEMIDJI, Minn. — The social work program at Bemidji State University, in conjunction with the Bemidji Community Arts Center, will host a workshop entitled “Visual Expression: Autobiography Through Dollmaking” Saturday, Oct. 4, at the University’s American Indian Resource Center.

The workshop, which will run from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., will feature Sandra Haff, director of the Minneapolis-based “I Love a Parade,” and seven artists whose work is currently featured in a Bemidji Community Art Center exhibit entitled “The Dolls.”

“I Love a Parade” was founded by Haff in 1999 to provide a safe, supportive and nurturing space for the homeless to find their voice through visual expression. Haff believed there were many people who were unable to find success within our current work system. She also observed a great deal of untapped creative talent within this group and knew, through her own affinity for art, that art has the power to heal. Merging the need for success in work, the shortage of self-esteem and the energy of creation, “I Love a Parade” was launched.

“The Dolls” represents the work of 10 “I Love a Parade” participants. The project gave women who have experienced homelessness an opportunity to tell their own stories through autobiographical dolls, each expressing a distinctive, individual message.

The Oct. 4 workshop, which features Haff and artists Cindy Arnold, Danielle Goins, Lois Erickson, LaTonya McIntosh, Sandy Olson, Michele Stanford and Karri Zebel along with Renee Jones, daughter of deceased artist Marilyn Jones, will present an experiential opportunity for participants to express and share their autobiographies through the creation of dolls.

This workshop is an exciting opportunity for artists, human service practitioners and interested community members to participate in a hands-on experience that can be then shared in different settings.

“The Dolls” will have an exhibit reception, gallery talk and book signing as part of the Bemidji art community’s “First Friday” event, which will take place from 5-7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3, at the Bemidji Community Arts Center.

The workshop has a non-refundable registration fee of $15 for the general public and $5 for students and senior citizens, with checks payable to the Region 2 Arts Council. Registration deadline for the workshop is Monday, Sept. 29.

For more information, please contact Mary Ann Reitmeir, workshop coordinator and associate professor of social work, at (218) 755-2835.

Oct. 4
– 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Bemidji State University social work program workshop, “Autobiography Through Dollmaking,” in conjunction with “I Love a Parade” and the Bemidji Community Arts Center. Location: American Indian Resource Center, Bemidji State campus. Cost: $15, $5 for students and senior citizens. Information: Mary Ann Reitmeir, (218) 755-2835.