The past few years of the pandemic have been a time of trauma, loss and isolation for many people. It’s something that Laura Díaz Tovar experiences on a daily basis through her work as an advocate for domestic violence victims.
But Díaz, a lifelong writer and artist, has found that being creative provides an outlet for healing, and she is now offering such a space in Gilroy for others.
Díaz is the latest participant in 6th Street Studios and Art Center’s artist-in-residence program, where artists have access to one of the studios at 64 West Sixth St. for up to three months.
Through her residency, Díaz is offering art workshops with a focus on healing from traumatic circumstances.
On May 14 from 11:30am to 1pm, Díaz will host an amate painting workshop at the studios. “Amate” is a type of paper made from processed bark with the feel of fiber. Such pieces of paper were used during the Mexica Empire to record everyday life events and pass along messages.
In the workshop, participants will learn about the history of this art, and will be prompted to paint something on them that they are most looking forward to in their lives, or something that they want to let go from the past few years.
The final workshop on June 4 will focus on writing what Díaz refers to as a “selfie poem.”
The first workshop held in late April saw participants create touchstones with personal messages.
“The workshops are tailored to offer folks a space to not necessarily come and talk about what happened, but to find pockets of peace where they can come and heal,” Díaz said. “We are offering a safe space for folks to interact and use art as a way of healing.”
Díaz, a San Jose resident who was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, is the co-founder of the Colibri Collective, which presents art and poetry workshops and healing circles.
Díaz said she primarily works with acrylic on canvas, and incorporating embroidery where she feels is appropriate. Wood also plays a big role in her work, with Díaz mentioning she loves the “earthy” feel it gives to her art.
She added that she was interested in 6th Street Studios’ artist-in-residency program because it gave her an opportunity to focus on her own work and promote art as a healing practice.
“I wanted to dedicate some time finishing work I started in the pandemic, and focus on how I can share my art with people and encourage them that this could be an outlet,” Díaz said.
For information and to register for the free workshops, visit 6thstreetartstudios.org.