A poem covered in digital painting.

In our Self-Advocacy classes, we use the arts to explore the many ways we can express ourselves, reiterating one of our core themes, “My voice has value.” Upstream Arts has always held an expansive understanding of the word “voice” – we speak with rhythms, gestures, colors, sounds, movement, and words.

Through painting, dancing, drumming, theater, and poetry, we practice expanding our voices, exploring our interests and strengths, and increasing our ability to express ourselves. Recently, this manifested in a “Paint the Poem,” where self-advocates collaboratively wrote a poem, and then responded to that poem by painting on top of it. 

Just as our voices are not constrained to one medium, our art is not confined to one material. In our online Self-Advocacy class, participants painted digitally, creating the image above. The poem underneath reads: 

Oh WOW whooooooah! I’m an
Making a poetic sound. 
There have never been peoples
like my peoples
Throwing the ball to my friend
Meow meow like a feline human
Sparkly pink to the end
Waking me up like Oudra
She was a gift of love
Sunshine kisses of listening
A rainbow greets like glistening
Neighing horses saying they’ll
help me
Baking and cooking and