Awake My Soul

AWAKE: fully conscious, alert, and aware : not asleep.

We have been leading teams to Guatemala for nine years now through the Athentikos documentary projects and now the I AM ART camps. Over the last 5 years, we’ve led eleven camps in Guatemala with 6 different partner organizations, 120 artists/volunteers, and nearly 2,000 at-risk children to transform pain into purpose through creative arts and God’s greater story of redemption. I have the honor to lead a camp each year and I love it! It’s a highlight of my year. It has been humbling to see this vision grow as well as how others participating in and facilitating the camps experience something new within themselves. I love showing others the beauty of Guatemala for the first time. I love seeing the team bond, as it’s significant that most people come on these trips not knowing others. I love seeing the kids get excited about their art projects and hearing stories about God’s healing in all of our lives. I also love the fun times of dancing, playing card games, and site-seeing with the teams. It’s all significant and each camp leaves a deep impact on my heart.

While some aspects of the trip may not be as awe-inspiring to me anymore… like seeing an active volcano or all the colorful textures in Antigua. I always leave these trips with a new sense of life stirring in my heart. As we led our teams through some mindfulness exercises to be in the moment, I sought to understand the impact on my own life. What is it about these trips that stir something new in my soul? 

After returning from the trip, we were singing a song in church that deeply touched me because I felt that the song’s message is what happens to the soul when experiencing a trip like this. I went to look up the Chris Tomlin lyrics and then came across one of my favorite songs by Mumford and Sons with the same title: Awake My Soul. It’s a different song than what we sang at church, but these lyrics deeply describe me:

“How fickle my heart and how woozy my eyes
I struggle to find any truth in your lies
And now my heart stumbles on things I don’t know
My weakness I feel I must finally show

Lend me your hand and we’ll conquer them all
But lend me your heart and I’ll just let you fall
Lend me your eyes I can change what you see
But your soul you must keep, totally free

Awake my soul, awake my soul
Awake my soul”

Part of my soul re-awakes each time we travel to Guatemala. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m removed from my day-to-day routine and connecting with God, others, and myself in a new way, or if being in a different culture allows my perspective to shift ever so slightly. Maybe it’s because hearing stories of great heartbreak and amazing healing is inspiring. Regardless of the triggers, part of my soul awakes during each trip. 

 I had a hard time writing this blog because it’s hard to explain the feeling of your soul awakening as it’s difficult to explain the powerful impact of our I AM ART trip. Many times I have said that it’s hard to express our experience in words. And that is the power of art: to express an inner abstract idea. Throughout time, people have used art for this same purpose— to communicate their stories, to worship God, and to express the thoughts of their soul. Dance, music, painting, sculpture… all of these and more allow the soul to express itself in ways our words cannot. And sometimes  you have to find yourself in the journey of creation.

In addition to leading the team, I taught a water-color class this time around. I love the fluid nature of the water and the paint. I  love putting water on the paper and adding color and watching it create with some direction. You can kinda direct the outcome of a piece, but for the most part the nature of watercolor technique is to allow it to “develop” itself.  You have to really let go of control and watch the beauty unfold. And the creation is beautiful!! While I LOVE this and think it’s really a simple medium, it was difficult to teach and for the most part, it was difficult for the girls to work with the water instead of controlling it. We did a variety of techniques and projects that followed our  themes, but in the end the essence of the teaching was in working with the water and how it relates to our relationship with God. As I sat and worked with the girls, I felt a connection to my soul that I rarely experience back “home.” The simplicity of creation allows the soul to feel, explore and breathe.

As I look back on 2016, I am very grateful for the four I AM ART teams in Guatemala. Like the creation of the watercolor pieces, our leadership team took steps of action to put “water and color” on the paper, but it was God that created the beauty that unfolded through the camps. The people on our teams are the core of the experience and the reason we are able to offer the I AM ART camps. I love the deep sense of community we feel during our time together as well as getting to know so many different types of people. I am grateful for the kids who willingly follow our direction in the creation of their art projects and humbly share parts of their stories with us. I am also thankful for our partnership organizations: Vidas Plenas, Lemonade International, Se Luz, Ten Fe, Kids Alive, The Oasis Home, Casa Bernabe and Friends of Children Everywhere who generously opened their communities to us. 

I hope in this New Year that our collective “artwork” will develop even more into a grand piece that only God can direct. It’s difficult letting go, listening to the depth of your soul, and taking steps in and towards God. Even though we love the I AM ART vision and want deeply for this vision to grow, at times it is extremely scary to trust God in this. We need money, people, and leadership to accomplish the great vision God has laid on our hearts. Our hope is that we will all continue to be the color that God is using to create this beautiful piece of art. While this blog isn’t necessarily about an opportunity to give, I do want to make that offer: If you have joined us on an I AM ART trip in the past, you understand the power of art and you know the sense of your soul awakening in new ways. We need you to continue to be a part of this by financially supporting the vision, please consider joining our monthly financial support team at http://athentikos.kindful.com/. If you have not yet been able to go on a trip, you can still support us! You can donate using the same link listed above and/or follow us on social media. Be on the lookout for future I AM ART camps you might want to join or other ways to support Athentikos. Your investment will make a difference in the communities we serve.

“In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
Where you invest your love, you invest your life
In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
And where you invest your love, you invest your life

Awake my soul, awake my soul
Awake my soul
For you were made to meet your maker
Awake my soul, awake my soul
Awake my soul
For you were made to meet your maker
You were made to meet your maker”

To get the full lyrics to this song click here.

Many, many, many thanks to all who are a part of our community, who have shared stories, invested, loved and listened. You have left an impact on my heart and many more.  Happy 2017 to you all!

The Color Wheel of Emotions

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It’s difficult to sum up the contrast of feelings and experiences related to I Am Art. In my workshop, we studied mixed media self-portraits.  We started the first day making color wheels called “color wheel of emotions” and talking about primary and secondary colors  as an exercise to help them practice for creating their self portraits during the week.

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RED: Red represents many things, but its essence is intensity and passion. Fire, blood, warmth, love, the heart, danger … red can symbolize of deep anger or sincere love. Red came to mind first when describing my experience in the first two days. I didn’t intentionally start with red, but I believe it came to my mind first because of the dichotomy I experience in a place and an event like this. I’m inspired by the people who serve this very hard community. I’m also deeply inspired by the artists who voluntarily and sacrificially join us to serve this week. My heart is deeply stirred and filled with HOPE. But my heart is also stirred with anger and hard questions. Why is there so much obvious hurt and poverty in one place?

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BLUE: Its essence is peace, but ironically can also represent sadness and melancholy. Perhaps a better description could be a place of stillness. It’s hard to be still like this. On the second night of I Am Art Camp, we had a great team meeting focused on worship and prayer lead by David  Lee (our music workshop leader) in which we centered on God and being still. I’m so grateful for people on our team that challenge me to be still, to engage in the moment and to listen to God’s voice. This is probably the hardest thing for me since I’m responsible for so many details of the camp. My mind is worn out, but I really want my heart to engage and heart God’s voice.

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YELLOW: Yellow is a fun and energetic color! I think this color best describes camp. The kids laugh and smile, genuinely engaged and there is great hope in their eyes. The students in my workshops loved experimenting various techniques and encouraged to one another. The counselors at camp are the teenagers who daily work with the younger kids. They have been very helpful in managing the students and assisting in the classrooms. We learned some of their stories of overcoming great obstacles and it is so inspiring to see them take on leadership responsibilities at such young ages.

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On the second day of camp and we focused on “Your World.” The kids explored and expressed their world through their projects and we also talked about their eternal home. My class created a pastel color project based on warm and cool colors representing their world. I found this cool project and it reminded of the mountains and sun of Guatemala!  The kids used various pastel techniques in their project: blending, etching and coloring. We talked about the emotions colors and lines can represent. I LOVED how these turned out! Even though they all look similar, each child created the project very differently. It is a perfect example and expression of our uniqueness in identity as art of the Great I Am!

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Creativity Takes Courage

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I’m heading to Guatemala again next month!

It’s hard to blog something new about my experience and our work with at-risk kids in Guatemala because I feel like I “talk” about it all the time! Yes, Guatemala has become part of our lives. What started as a life-changing journey to adopt our two sons has now evolved into a deep love for the country and connecting others to the need and the beauty there.

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“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” – Albert Einstein

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]Next month, my husband and I will lead our 9th team of 20 American & Guatemala artists to facilitate a week-long I AM ART camp with at-risk youth in Guatemala through our non-profit, Athentikos. Athentikos is a community of creatives collaborating in authentic mission. Our I AM ART initiative enriches the lives of at-risk children by using creative arts to show them the power of their true potential. Our team help kids discover the uniqueness of who they are and unlock the possibilities of what they can be. With I AM ART, our goal is to help each child find the art within so they can change the way they view the world around them. This changes their course. This changes their community.

Our team will be teaching 10 daily workshops for 100 kids in Guatemala City for a week. These range from drama, painting, collage, sewing, music and more. In addition to the workshops, the kids will learn daily Bible lessons, play games, sing songs and be loved-on by our staff! Then, we have a community art show at the end of the week to allow the kids to perform, show and communicate about their exploration and creations.

I teach a collage class which will be based on a self-portrait project.

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“Creativity takes courage.―
Henri Matisse

JOIN US in this opportunity! We offer this week-long camp for FREE to all the kids in attendance. Would you consider making a donation to help send a child to camp!? And as a small THANK YOU, you will receive a piece of art work from the camp![/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]ajmoore_other_07

“Primarily what we carry around with us is a memory of childhood, back when each held the magic of discovering the world.” Isamu Noguchi

Children growing up in poverty often lack the “habit” of dreaming, of using their imaginations and thus understanding their own unique story. Their plight steals their imagination and in a sense their childhood. We believe through art, children can be challenged to explore and dream. Through I AM ART we have worked with a variety of youth to help them explore the world around them, connect with their communities on a different level and show them God’s truth through their own stories. Creativity really is the beginning of change.

I’ve loved seeing the impact art can have in a child’s life on a small and grand scale. This past spring we got to organize our first community mural project outside one of the largest slum areas in Latin America. Two hundred kids, adults and volunteers came together to produce a mural that proclaims The Right of The Child to their community. This grand project taught us all about the “simple” rights every child has: the right to a name, protection, family, home, food, medical attention, etc. The project also taught us about coming together to create something larger than ourselves and even beyond the project, that we all have something to contribute to the world. Many in the community thanked us and told us that projects like this can bring change to a community in addition to being a daily reminder to the kids that participated about their value and role in their community.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]Since the focus is on the kids in the communities, I often forget that a trip like this will have a profound impact on the adult American and Guatemalan staff & volunteers that are a part of the project. This year we have talked a lot about how this opportunity is now just for the kids, but exploration through art TOGETHER will have a profound impact on our artists. My hope is that I too will experience Guatemala and God in a new way. We are being more intentional about building and inspiriting our adult artist team through this opportunity. I hope is the artists in Guatemala and in the US can see how their gifts make a difference and will inspire them on a deeper level in their own art form.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][mk_image src=”https://athentikos.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/ajmoore_mural_20.jpg” image_width=”300″ image_height=”300″ crop=”false” lightbox=”false” frame_style=”simple” target=”_self” caption_location=”inside-image” align=”left” margin_bottom=”10″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
Pablo Picasso
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]“A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.”
Leonardo da Vinci

Art can be as simple as clapping your hands or as serious as putting your ideas into action. Art connects to the soul in a way nothing else can. We believe God uses this power to teach child about their own unique value. Even though almost all the kids we work with come from extreme poverty, have been abused and have very little educational opportunity, we believe along with the Guatemalan staff that work with them daily that these youth ARE the future of their communities and country. I AM ART is one piece of a very large organizational puzzle that will enable them to see their true potential.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

Please give a donation today to make this happen!

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Omaha Film Festival / Press Release

Athentikos heads to the Omaha Film Festival this week to premiere “Becoming Fools.” For those of you in the area (or know someone in Omaha), please join us in celebrating this story. Here is the press release for the film.

Filmmakers inspire hope in Guatemala by “Becoming Fools”

Non-profit organization, Athentikos, premieres feature-length documentary Becoming Fools at Omaha Film Festival on March 10, 2013 at 12pm.

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Spring Hill, TN (WEB) February 26, 2013 — Athentikos, a non-profit film production organization that exposes need and inspires hope through the art of story, is premiering their second documentary, Becoming Fools at the Omaha Film Festival on March 10, 2013 at 12pm.  This will be the first among many film festival premieres throughout the spring and summer.

Becoming Fools is the ultimate underdog story of comedy healing tragedy. Becoming Fools documents the lives of Guatemalan street youth who are joined by professional entertainers in preparing for a theatrical event to honor their fallen hero, Italo, whose passion for these children started a movement teaching the art of clowning as a way to rehabilitate lives and to show these children a father’s love.

“Clowns are not just associated with children, clowns really are children. So learning to clown helps reconnect these youth with their stolen childhood,” said Director, Scott Owen Moore. “Becoming Fools is a rally cry to take a risk and join in the effort to end child homelessness. We’ve already seen the power of this story to unite people in this important cause.”

The filming of Becoming Fools further ignited a movement in Guatemala set to empower youth living in the streets to rise above their situation.  Over 20 diverse organizations now meet monthly to discuss ways they can work together in serving street youth.

Athentikos hopes to premiere Becoming Fools throughout the US during a fall & winter screening tour.

See the trailer here.

Contact: Scott Moore / smoore@athentikos.com / Athentikos / 615-852-8326

Self-Portrait Collage Class at Art Camp

I (Amelia Moore) had the honor of teaching a collage class again at this year’s Art Camp. In addition to photography, I have a love for the creative art of collage. I love working with various materials to create an art piece! For me, its an exciting challenge to search through materials I have on hand like old tags, materials, photos, coins, paper or discarded bags; and of course it’s always fun to shop for new materials. Then it’s fun to use a variety of techniques combine all the materials to make one beautiful masterpiece! The kids also love creating a collage piece because they get to try several different techniques and learn how to use materials around them as supplies for their art piece (like painting with beets or making their piece 3D with recycled trash)!

This year my class focused on creating a self-portrait. I started the class by teaching them about facial portions and how to draw facial features. It’s always fun to learn about body portions! They continued their faces throughout the week by adding their own colors, materials and character. Around their faces they added paper mosaic. Finally, they finished their pieces by coloring their faces with black crayons and then scraping it off with a coin.

While these were all fun techniques, it was significant to use the process as a teaching tool. I shared with them how we are all created with the same features… everyone has two eyes in the center horizon of their faces, mouths that are the width of their eyes, a nose in the middle of their face, etc. Their interpretation of their characteristics illustrated how we are all made unique and for a purpose by God. The paper mosaic represented the influences all around us and that we need to be aware of the positive and negative influences. The black crayon we used to cover our faces represented the unhealthy choices, sin of others or ourselves, hurt, abuse or loneliness that we experience. Like the blackness of the crayons, these experiences block us from understanding and seeing God’s purpose in our lives. But we all have a choice to work towards healing and making healthy decisions and so we talked about that process as we worked (hard!) at scraping away the black crayon with the coins. Then we discussed how the “blackness” is still part of our lives but that too can shape us and that we can use those experiences to help others. Some kids had a really hard time liking the “black” of their art pieces (and I really did too since we spent all week creating some beautiful pieces); but it was a great opportunity to remind them that even with the “black” on their self-portraits, the pieces were beautiful! The black added depth and interest to the pieces. Yes, some of them did actually turn out darker than I would have liked, but that is the process of art AND LIFE – that you never know how things are going to turn out. But the significant thing about the process of creation is exploring, trying new things, being in the moment and celebrating the outcome.

And we got to celebrate their beautiful self-portrait creations at an Art Show at the end of the week! Upon returning to the city, we hosted an Art Show for the community. The kids were able to share what they learned and experienced at Art Camp with their friends and families. Our prayer is that through art, relationships and God’s truth, the kids would continue to understand their purpose and make healthy choices that will ultimately change their community… and country.

The majority of our camp funding comes through individual donations from people like you! Would you consider giving to make this opportunity happen again in 2013? All donations are tax deductible. You can make a donation now.

Photography by Amelia Moore & Sara Harper for Athentikos.

 

 

First Preview Event

Last night our team hosted a Preview Event, “A Vision To Inspire” to start getting the word out about our documentary project. Chris Wheeler emceed the evening and shared statistics about Guatemala, Amy Stroup and Mary Hooper sang a few songs, we played a team video highlighting our Jan trip, a Trailer for the project, a small but powerful interview from the project and then Scott & I shared our hearts and journey. Our room was decorated beautifully highlighting photos of the precious people we met (thanks Ericha, Kayla & Mary for the beautiful decorations!).  We had a variety of desserts including Tres Leches, Flan and Horchata.  60+ folks joined us to hear about the vision and purpose of this documentary. As a team we were energized and encouraged by the response. It’s been so hard to communicate to people the scope of our project, so it was fun to show and share more about it. People continually said, “We had no idea… about Guatemala… the scope of this project… your story.” We’ll be hosting a few other Vision Evenings this fall to continue to cast the vision and tell the story. Please join us if you were unable too last night!

Currently, we have a few needs to move forward with this project. First, a small crew is returning to Guatemala in August to capture some more footage. If you would like to make a financial contribution towards the trip, go to www.athentikos.com and click on “help us spread the word!” Second, we need help with financial, marketing and business items. If you are interested in joining our team, contact us at info@athentikos.com.

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On the blog here, we’ll start to share our personal journey and the vision for the project. So I’ll start at the beginning… here’s a little of what I shared last night:

In 2005, after struggling with infertility for several years, Scott and I attended an adoption conference-  it was more out of desperation than desire. Soon after, we knew we were supposed to pursue adoption, but my heart was still raw. I wasn’t excited about the option and felt bitter that it felt forced upon us. But I trusted that God would change my heart. A year later on Mother’s Day 2006, we carried an eight-month-old baby boy home from Guatemala. In the course of that year, God HAD changed my heart – I had completely fallen in love with a child and a country. I can’t image my life without either. Soon after we adopted another boy from Guatemala. So – through our four visits with the adoptions, we committed to learning about the culture in Guatemala. Before I started the adoption process, I knew very little about the country. So in effort to see more than just the touristy stuff, we made contact with an acquaintance, an American Missionary who lived in Guatemala City – Joel van Dyke. Joel and his organization provide Biblical & Theological training to Latin American volunteers who are already doing significant ministry in their communities, they have very little.

Joel passionately shared their vision for the Least, the Last and the Lost – for reaching people in hard, desperate places like the slums, the prisons, the homeless – for asking beautiful questions of people that are forgotten to much of society – for hearing their personal stories and through that connecting and sharing Christ. So through our relationship with him we learned about the deep needs in the country and the amazing work God is doing through His people there. Every time we visited, we met new people. We heard their personal stories, their vision for their communities and their hearts of hope in God’s provision. We were inspired by a country we previously knew little about … our desire became to inspire others through these stories– not just so others might be interested in Guatemala, but so they would be inspired to use their personal skills to impact the communities around them.

God Bless,

Amelia Moore