Studio Sundays: Vo Vo: Trauma Informed Care in our Communities
About the Artist
Vo Vo was born in Aotearoa. On their mother’s side, their family is from the Han tribe in China. On their father’s side, their family was Indigenous farmers from the Mekong Delta in Vietnam whose cultural identities and records were erased due to colonization. Vo lives with overlapping disabilities and is also queer, transmasculine, and an immigrant. All of these pieces make up their understanding of the world and guide their artmaking.
Vo Vo is both an artist and an educator. Their education work began through working with children living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other disabilities in big cities around the world. Now, their artwork, writing and educational workshops help teach people and organizations about inclusive practices — how to work and live in such a way that benefits everyone, especially marginalized groups.
For more information on Vo, you can explore their website: http://vovovovo.weebly.com/
Aotearoa– the Maori word for New Zealand.
Colonization– When one country or group of people tries to take control of another.
Queer– a term for a wide range of different gender identities and sexual orientations.
Marginalized groups– groups of people who may be discriminated against and therefore at a disadvantage because of their differences, identity, or situation. This can include people living with disabilities, people living in poverty, people who’ve experienced trauma, Black people, Indigenous people, Asian people, and many more groups.
Transmasculine– identifying as more masculine than feminine, even if you don’t consider yourself a boy or man. Vo is transmasculine; they use the gender-neutral pronouns they and them.
About the Artwork
Trauma Informed Care in our Communities is a video about how we care for the people around us who need it most. It is an educational work that teaches about how trauma, racism, and albeism affect people, and how we can all help each other heal from these things and lead better lives.
Trauma can happen to a person or group of people when they experience, see, or have to face a very difficult situation. For example, situations such as death, serious injury, or threats to someone’s physical or emotional safety can cause trauma. Traumatic events can often be related to ableism or racism. Ableism is when we treat people with disabilities worse than we treat those without disabilities. Racism is when we treat one group of people as better or worse than another group based on what part of the world their families are from. Both ableism and racism can seriously hurt people.
We all have the power to help reduce the effects of trauma in our communities. In this video, one of the things that Vo and their participants talk about is caremongering. Caremongering is a new word that evolved from the word fearmongering. Where fearmongering means spreading fear on purpose, caremongering means spreading care on purpose in your communities, especially to those who need it most. It moves the responsibility of finding help off of people who are hurting, and puts that responsibility onto people who have the energy (both physical and emotional) to give that help. Caremongering includes making the effort to check in with the people in our communities. Care is also mutual- it goes both ways! The people you give care to may have cared for you in the past, or may give you care in the future. Communities are made stronger when their members take the time to take care of each other.
If you would like to learn more, you can watch the full video in the exhibition Provisional Structures: Carmen Papalia with Vo Vo and jes sachse. The video includes sign language and subtitles. There is also a Plain English document you can read that shares the same educational information, and transcripts of the video in French and Urdu.
- We all have care needs. What ways do you want or need help from others?
- It is important to remember that not everyone wants every kind of help that you have to offer. Can you think of a time someone tried to help you in a way you didn’t want? Why didn’t you like that person’s way of helping you?
- Part of being supportive is paying attention and listening to how people say they want to be helped. Think of a person or group of people in your community. Can you remember anything they have said about how they want to be helped?
Vo Vo’s video Trauma Informed Care in our Communities discusses different ways we can help the people around us. Make a paper weaving that depicts how your community is held together by people supporting each other while thinking about what it means to listen closely to how people want to be helped.
Make A Paper Weaving
What you need:
- Optional- weaving template for younger kids
- Paper strips cut from construction paper, magazines, old calendars, etc. (see activity for size suggestions)
- Glue sticks
- Pencils and erasers
- Optional- coloured tape to bind edges
- Optional- graph paper to plan patterns
What you do:
- Cut out your paper strips for weaving. If you are using the template, we recommend cutting your strips 2 cm wide and at least 20 cm long. However any width should work. If you want to make your weaving more difficult, cut narrower strips. If you want to make it easier, cut wider strips. You can even use strips of different widths on the same project!
- If you are using the weaving template you’ll need to get it ready:
- Cut out the large square.
- Fold it in half and cut along the rest of the dotted lines. The strips you just cut will be your warp strips (the vertical strips of your weaving). Make sure you don’t cut across the solid line- the paper at both ends will help hold your weaving together.
- Spend some time thinking about how communities provide each other help. On the back of each strip you just cut, write down a time when someone asked you for help. Or, if you can’t write, draw a small picture to represent that act of help. Think about why it’s important to listen to how others want to be helped.
- If you are not using the template:
- Pick out your warp strips (the vertical strips of your weaving). Decide how many strips wide your project will be, and what colours you want these strips to be.
- Spend some time thinking about how communities provide each other help. On each of the warp strips you’ve chosen, write down a time where someone asked you for help. Think about why it’s important to listen to how others want to be helped.
- Line up your warp strips side-by-side vertically, and tape them to your table across their tops.
- Pick out your weft strips (the ones you are going to weave horizontally through your warp strips). As you pick out these strips, think about the colour patterns you would like to see in your weaving. On the back of each of these, write down a time when you have asked for help from someone else. Think about how it felt when people listened to your needs.
- Start weaving! Take your first horizontal weft strip and weave it over and under the vertical warp strips. When you start your second weft strip, be sure to use the opposite pattern (if you started with “over” for the first strip, start with “under” on your second strip).
- Advanced options: Experiment with your weaving- you don’t have to stick to an over-under pattern! Try a pattern of one under, two over. Or one under, three over. Find out what happens if you alternate between different patterns. Or, you could even use graph paper to plan out a complex pattern! Put an “X” on the graph paper to mark each “over,” or when you will see the colour of the weft threads. Then carefully follow the rows of your graph paper pattern as you weave.
- Finishing options: You can use gluestick or clear tape to keep the edges of the strips down, and then trim the excess paper of each strip to your liking. Another option after trimming your paper strips is to take pieces of coloured tape, lay them over each edge, and fold the tape over to the other side to create a neat and colourful binding.
- Think about how each of these strips represents people helping each other, with each other’s consent. Our communities are stronger when we work together, just as this artwork is more beautiful when woven together!