“How Are You?”

a workshop series
exploring the power of giving and receiving support
through art & movement

Premise & initial workshop:

About a year ago, in collaboration with five other womxn, I curated the first “How Are You?” workshop. The premise was to visually represent the two sides of support: giving (which is often focused on) and reaching out when in need (which I felt was not focused on enough). 

The workshop began with the 6 of us sitting in a circle and talking through times when we needed support, how we went about reaching out for it or wished we had and didn’t, and how art was a means for supporting ourselves and others. After talking, I guided everyone through a short movement meditation and introduction to the practice of contact improvisation, an exploration of sharing physical weight with others. 

The 5 participants then did a few exercises of sharing weight, alternating between reaching out for physical support and lending it to the others, while I took photos: first, all standing in a line and taking turns as those supporting and needing support. Second, pairs and trios came together to have personal moments of support, in whatever ways felt honest and satisfying. From there, each participant took turns standing in the middle of the group and reaching out for the physical support that they needed.

It has been hard for me to put out these images as the event had such weight individually and collectively. I believe we all left the workshop with a sense of belonging, comfort, and release. With some gentle coercing from the participants, I felt motivated to finally share these images and talk a bit about the magnitude of opening up to support.

We constantly invalidate our feelings, especially in times when reaching out for support could make an enormous and positive impact. While those lending support are exceptionally valuable, without opening up for support, you can not see all the hands extending and willing to lift you up. It may feel like you are alone, but with this project and projects like this, I hope to remind you, you are not and never will be. 

Thank you so much to the womxn who made this happen. You are each the heart of this. (& special thanks to Miette Hope for the name of the workshop):
Idara Ndon
Divyanka Gupta
Jans Alcantara
Miette Hope
Izzy Schwarz

Future events:

I am hoping to curate other events of this nature as well as have a recurring “How Are You"?” workshop in the Boston area. I am looking for collaborators to help put on these events including a licensed psychologist or trained mental health professional, an event coordinator, as well as yogis, dancers, or speakers with input on the topic of support & vulnerability. If you are interested in helping curate a “How Are You?” event of something similar, please email me at holysmokephotography@gmail.com.

I want portraiture to be much broader than images of humans and encompass a means to share experience, spread values of compassion, openness, and connection while validating and lifting each other up.

I am in need of support:

For those who are in times of stress and trauma here are some resources (& also I love you):

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a network of local crisis centers that are available 24/7 to provide support for youth and adults who are in any kind of emotional crisis.  In addition to the main hotline number listed above, there are several other numbers to call depending on your needs:

Spanish Language: 1-866-628-9454

Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889

Veterans: 1-800-273-8255

Disaster Distress: 1-800-985-5990

Anyone can also use their online chat feature on their website.

Samaritans Statewide Helpline: 1-877-870-4673

The Samaritans Statewide Helpline is available to anyone in Massachusetts who is need of emotional support.  Anyone can call or text the helpline to receive help from specially trained volunteers.

Massachusetts high school and college students can also get online support through the IMHear_ program.  For high school students, volunteers ages 15-18 are available Monday-Thursday from 6-9PM.  For college students, IMHear_ is available Monday-Friday from 5-9PM.

for other resources please go to https://www.mass.gov/service-details/crisis-hotlines

Below is a gallery of images from the first installment of the “HOW Are YOU?” Workshop