Expressive Arts @32nd & Thorn provides respite to a hectic life
By Jessica Dearborn | SDUN Reporter
When the opportunity presented itself nearly three years ago, Tish McAllise Sjoberg said she quickly rented an available corner shop in North Park to open Expressive Arts @32nd & Thorn. In a short time, Sjoberg transformed the space into a safe haven for people – with or without art skills – to empty their stresses and immerse themselves in a new, transforming experience.
A North Park resident, Sjoberg has a certificate of advanced graduate studies and is an Expressive Arts Therapist. She said she believes in building community, self-enrichment and expression, and works with people both one on one or in groups, using art for helping and healing.
“I have personally experienced the power of Expressive Arts in my life when I grieved the death of my parents, as well as to support me to create major changes in my life,” she said on the studio’s website, expressiveartssandiego.com. “A fabulous byproduct has been the cultivation of my artist self.”
Sjoberg is a graduate of the Expressive Arts Institute of San Diego, and works with women who are or have been homeless, people with eating disorders and adults with developmental disabilities, among many others. The studio, located at 3201 Thorn St., also serves as an exhibition space.
In the most recent exhibition, “The Inside/Out Project: Art in Response to the Prison System and Incarceration,” the studio features works from inmates in the California Prison system. The exhibition is being held in part to “challenge the public’s perception of those who are incarcerated, and shine light on the dire effects of incarceration on families and our communities,” the website states.
For July – the monthly schedule is posted well in advance, and changes slightly – offered programs include Open Studios on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; Art Aerobics on Wednesdays; Art Happy Hour the fourth Friday of the month; Women’s Expression sessions each Tuesday; an Open Mic night, Friday July 12; and two Art Church days, on Sunday.
Additionally, Expressive Arts is heavily involved with the T-32 neighborhood walkabouts. In July, the studio will be hosting a free exhibit reception and artist talk for “The Inside/Out Project” from 4 – 8 p.m. during the walkabout on July 20. The exhibit will remain on display through Aug. 9.
My own experience during a recent Art Happy Hour was exhilarating, while I lost myself into artistic creativity during a warm summer night. I had only intended on staying an hour or two, however my intention was swayed when I found that in spite of my limited art skill, it didn’t matter. It was about the experience.
Sjoberg was supportive and explained all the different mediums she had available for use. She walked me to a small room that housed magazines so I could cut out images for a collage. I sat alone for a while and imagined what the end result would be and what it was I wanted to express.
I sifted through the pages and cut out what I needed. After I glued the images to my blank canvass, I proceeded to another room where I taped it to the wall and finished my piece with splashes of paint.
When I walked home that night, I felt lighter than I had in weeks. For a few hours on a Friday night, I was able to stop thinking about anything other than my artistic focus. A sense of freedom and fulfillment swept through me.
Expressive Arts is a safe, imaginative and welcoming place to free ourselves from our daily stressors, and to free that artistic side of us that we otherwise may not have thought about.
For more information on Sjoberg, Expressive Arts and their programs visit expressiveartssandiego.com or call 619-251-8474.