The Heart in the Middle

A workshop intended for a group of asylum seekers consisting of children and their mothers

The focal point of this master’s thesis is a workshop, intended for a group of asylum seekers consisting of children, age 4 to 5, and their mothers. I did an action-research on how I as an art teacher could create an ideal educational environment for groups of vulnerable students as well as how art education could be a platform for social learning, education of the emotions and ethics of care. 
The workshop was a collaboration of the Reykjavík School of Visual Arts, Reykjavík City and the Art Equal project. It lasted for six consecutive Saturdays, two hours at a time. The idea was to create surroundings where mothers and their children could share quality time together in the company of others in a similar position. Women of foreign origin in Iceland are in a risk of social isolation, especially women with young children.
My aim was to strengthen the bond between mother and child and enable relations and conversation within the group through the visual medium transcending language barriers. The students got an opportunity to experience art-making as a healing process which allows for emotional expression.
I wanted to increase student’s social competence and sense of identity by getting them to engage in conversation on colors and emotions through simple art projects, physical expression and breathing exercises. Through these exercises the students learned some Icelandic words and simple phrases while getting the chance to share simple information about their own language.
In my opinion the project was a success in many ways. The implementation, choice of assignment and material as well as the positive communication within the group. With considerate and respectful interaction we managed to create an atmosphere of security and trust which I believe are the basis of good educational environment for vulnerable students. 
Fríða María Harðardóttir
fridamaria [at]
Advisors: Ingimar Ólafsson Waage og Hafþór Guðjónsson