No more posts…

The purpose of this blog had been to share about the art ministry inside an immigrant family detention center. Unfortunately that ministry has been shut down effective 12/15/16 so there will be no more posts… hopefully the spiritual benefits of the art ministry will linger to eternity.

Christmas ATCs by Immigrants


The immigrant mothers seeking asylum had fun making “Christmas ATCs” yesterday morning. They glued strips of pretty Christmas-theme paper to a 7″x10″ piece of white card stock and then I cut the background to the ATC size. They enjoyed using the various art supplies to decorate their cards with the festive Christmas theme.


The collage options included precut pieces of pretty Christmas ribbon, assorted glitter glue and bling, scripture verses in Spanish, and punch tools to cut Christmas shapes out of pretty papers. They also took great care in decorating the envelop for storing their completed Christmas ATCs.


Restocking Xmas ATCs for Future Art

Mass producing ATCs seems a bit lame but it’s also super-productive and ultimately (oddly) very relaxing to do the necessary (but mindless) background prep to generate a new batch of artist trading cards. I precut the paper to 7″x10″ so it then easily cuts into 8 pieces (2-1/2×3-1/2″). I generally do two layers of stencils and then a layer of stamping. For this background batch I opted to include differed colored card stock for the background (red, green, black, & white) to encourage the immigrant art participants to be creative in the paper color choices. After the background is ready, it can be cut into the eight pieces for individual creative elements like collage and assorted bling. 

Recycling old PR postcards for Christmas collage elements.

Trading Christmas ATCs

The afternoon art session included the invitation to make a Christmas ATC to trade with one of “Pastora Helena’s“. Most of the moms and kids made bracelets and/or Christmas earrings, but the little kids enjoyed the opportunity to create miniature art cards (ATCs) which they could trade if they wanted to. As the afternoon session was winding down, the kids who had NOT made ATCs wanted to “trade” but they had nothing to trade. Of course, I said to go ahead and take one of the cards that I had made…and they “traded” me for a hug instead of a card.


The set of ATCs I brought to trade.

It was fun to see the variety of art supplies the moms and kids used, and also to see their excitement in “trading” one of theirs for one of mine.


Much discussion & consideration for the trading selection…


The nearly empty board…




Incredible (Immigrant) Art

It was an incredible experience to do art the day before Thanksgiving inside an immigrant family detention center. Basically, I could have been cooking for the same-ol-same-ol holiday overeating meal OR doing art with mothers and kids seeking asylum. No contest; I chose the art option. I packed two super-sized Pullman suitcases full of Christmas art supplies and facilitated art with 275-300 moms and kids.

The art supplies filled the tables down the center of the gym.

The reflection theme was “My Christmas Prayer” which they wrote as desired and the decorated their page with the myriad of art supplies. I explained that Advent begins in a few days and this was the beginning of the preparation for the birth of the Christ child. The biblical text from the Gospel of Luke about Jesus coming to free the captives was a wonderfully (subversive) text to include in the artwork.

Restocking ATCs

After the pre-Thanksgiving art day, which wiped out all the Christmas ATCs I’d made, I began restocking. The board holds about 50, and I try to make them fun, festive and full of the sparkle & bling that the women generally prefer. I also use the art prep as my time to experiment and to be creative. 

I discovered some leftover marketing postcards for several previous Las Posadas, each with a different piece of art work. The moms will love having these to “recycle” in their own artwork & I included some as collage in my ATCs. 

Advance Prep for Christmas 

Words help express ideas, feelings, emotions & more. Clearly words are powerful “symbols” in art as much (or more so) as a butterfly, cross, star, or flower. In preparation for Christmas art inside an immigrant family detention center I carved a few words in Spanish to be used as “symbols” within the art. #artasmission, #immigrantart

Songs suggest (important) words

Use a sharp exacto knife to make custom “word stamps” out of an art eraser or a wine cork. 

Gelli Art ATCs

I downsized one of my Gelli Art plates by cutting into three small pieces; two are ATC-sized and the third piece is 3×5″ to use for stamping images onto larger (already printed) backgrounds. It has been especially fun to make mini Gelli prints on precut ATC-sized paper. 

Mount the small Gelli on an acrylic block.

As with full-sized Gelli prints, do multiple presses. It’s a great way to dab up any leftover paint from a larger plate. In other words: multi-tasking!

Punch tool shapes for sillouette layer

Almost Ready…

I’ve been working on a batch of ATCs to trade with immigrants inside Karnes. This series began as Gelli art mono prints. Then I added a stamped image to a clean/separate piece of white card stock when I cut out & glued to the Gelli print background. I’ve hand colored the stamped image using colored pencils & watercolors. I added a few “bling” embellishments. They are almost ready to “restock” my ATC board that the moms choose from (if they opt to trade one of theirs for one of mine). 

Kitchen Table Art

I didn’t make it out back to my art room, but I did spread out at the kitchen table to add some layers to yesterday’s brainless (post presidential debate) art. 

I added bling, glitter edging, and stamped words (acrylic paint on custom carved Spanish words on erasers & wine corks). These ATCs will be added to the board I bring inside the immigrant family detention center so residents can trade theirs for mine (optional; as desired). 

Mixed Media Art as A Ministry of Presence