MISSION: To awaken creative expression
VISION: To develop global art initiatives
Art Events, Street Art, Apparel, Curriculum Development, Workshops, Workbooks, Speaker Series, Craftivism, Illustration, Portraiture, Documentaries, Graphic Novels
for youth groups, schools and community organizations
Introductory Message from Katarina Thorsen:
In my role as art director at @bypoststreet, and as therapeutic art facilitator in the Lower Mainland, I am fulfilling my passion to awaken creative expression in everyone around me. I do this through visual art, art facilitation, art events, street art, blogging, journaling and craftivism. Especially sock monkeys.
Sock monkeys are a significant part of my work. Perhaps my life’s work!
I have been delivering sock monkey therapy and workshops for years and there is nothing quite as magical as witnessing the smiles on participants as they awaken to the healing power of the sock monkey. I use sock monkeys as part of my therapeutic art classes for at-risk youth and in my general art classes for all ages. The process is quite miraculous. The simple process of making a loveable creature allows for a moment of safety and caring. The socialization and resulting dialogue is part of the magic. Each stitch in a sock monkey contains thoughts, laughter, tears, dreams, horror, joy, secrets, trust etc. The natural instinct for many is to want to make more and to share them.
There are so many stories:
H. using a sock monkey to comfort her as she testified in court against an abusive boyfriend. T. making a sock monkey for his sick friend to take to treatment. M., struggling with mental health issues, making sock monkeys with worn socks and dental floss and couch stuffing, bringing them to me to send to Africa. C. using sock monkey making in her work with people living with Alzheimer’s. A. making a sock monkey for her hero, after his mom passed away. L. using sock monkeys to process trauma to face her abuser and to create dialogue and raise esteem in her peers. H. interpreting her favorite artist’s work through sock monkeys then connecting with the artist through her micro-industry online sales and social media. The entire school (Keith Lynn Alternative Secondary, North Vancouver) infused with sock monkey fever as we made 200 for Operation Sock Monkey.
Lindsey Hodgson and her Operation Sock Monkey team working GLOBALLY, delivering 1000’s of sock monkeys to children in South Africa, Nepal, India, Haiti, Northern Canada and more. Passion Foundation bringing sock monkeys as comfort for young victims at a rape relief crisis center in Cape Town. Families using sock monkeys to help comfort their terminally ill children and themselves. The use of sock monkeys in attachment therapy with Clowns Without Borders. Women in Woza Moya making an income through sock monkey making.
Little Maxx annually bringing smiles to children in a hospital in Philadelphia as he gathers sock monkey donations.
And the amount of people simply sewing a monkey to help them through emotional crises…
It’s endless. The feedback I get could fill a book and maybe it should. It’s hard to imagine the actual number of people who utilize the power of sock monkey to make the world a better place. And I am honored to be a small, albeit extremely passionate and vocal, member of that tribe.
I still make them on my own. All the time. I make them as my art. They help me calm down.
I make them as a volunteer operative of Operation Sock Monkey. I am passionate about spreading the word. I get countless requests to teach sock monkey making. But there is only one me, so my brother, filmmaker Fred Thorsen, created this wonderful video for me (originally offered as a class for Six Degrees of Creativity):
But there is a whole new level of sock monkey therapy that I want to explore.
I want to develop a life skills/entrepreneurship curriculum/workbook/workshop to increase the extraordinary powerful impact of sock monkey making– a replicable model that allows youth groups, schools, community organizations and Operation Sock Monkey to use sock monkey therapy to create healing opportunities and to teach business skills, business planning and mind-mapping, essential life skills and the power of entrepreneurship through a project-based learning model. I want to develop a powerful, easy to use tool to deliver the life skills, to awaken creativity, to increase the production of sock monkeys for income and for charity. The pilot project will involve seven local young women (graduates of my various youth-at-risk art programming) to test the curriculum and to help facilitate local workshops.
• Why now?
This is a critical time to begin the project as Christmas craft fairs are taking applications now for their 2014 tables, as schools are planning their 2014-2015 scheduling, as my team is ready to go, and as I have opened my life to this moment to dedicate my time to it.
I want to pay the fee to become a licensed Right Brain Business Plan facilitator to increase the power of the curriculum and to be able to expand the @bypoststreet curriculum event further.
I want the curriculum to be translatable and easy to deliver– locally and globally.
I am so tired of seeing cutbacks in programming, seeing schools and community programs have very little funding for workshop facilitators, yet desperate to bring them in. I want to create an easy means for these organizations to utilize the curriculum I have created on their own. I don’t want them to struggle financially to be able to deliver this powerful tool. And I don’t want to have to struggle financially anymore due to programming cutbacks!
As I wrote already, there is only one me, so I want to spread the curriculum by “training the trainers.”
I have dedicated my life to awakening creative expression in others, and now is the time for me to increase the scope of that teaching, to utilize all my knowledge and to build a new career for myself where I actually make a living through sustainable curriculum development around creative expression (from sock monkeys, to visual art, art events, journaling, business development, etc.).
I am the one to do this. I got this. You know I do!
I am looking to raise immediate funds to begin this critical phase to be able to focus on it fully in May and June. If you have been touched by the work that I do, and would like to see this project come to fruition, please donate.
a. Develop the curriculum covering:
Creative Expression, Therapeutic Groups, Art Techniques, Project-based Learning, Employment Skills, Life Skills, Entrepreneurship, Mindmapping, Business Plans, Community Outreach, Operation Sock Monkey, Social Media
b. Right Brain Business Plan Facilitator License– for @bypoststreet Art Director, Katarina Thorsen
c. Develop Pitch and Power Point Presentation
d. Christmas Craft Show application fees
e. Initial Team Development
f. Community Partnerships and Grant Applications
• Implement Pilot Project with group of seven local young women.
• Provide honorariums to pilot project team.
• Test curriculum, document and evaluate.
• Develop community partnerships (including- Operation Sock Monkey, Passion Foundation, Global Sorority, Girls4Girls, Mountainside Secondary School, Byrne Creek Secondary School, North Shore Neighborhood House, Squamish Nation, Hawthorne Care Centre)
• Grant applications.
October 2014- January 2015
• Create a sustainable model and workbook.
• Create website.
• “Train the trainers” workshop series.
• School and community workshops, craft shows and online sales.
• Community outreach.
• Workshop and speakers series.
• Community collaboration.
• Evaluate sustainable model.
• Expand curriculum series to include visual art, street art initiatives, interactive art projects, journaling, intergenerational projects, and project based learning.
• Expand global outreach to South Africa (Woza Moya).
There’s nothing that makes you so aware of the improvisation of human existence as a song unfinished. Or an old address book.
I’m in the process of moving, which means looking through my collection of unfinished quilts. There’s something quite beautiful about unfinished projects to me. They contain privacy, internal dialogue, connection, hope. I’m really ready to revisit and finish these.
My mother often claimed that she was not artistic, that instead she was an artistic director. She had an amazing eye for design and style.
She was artistic and crafty and influenced my love for tradition and craft.
I was ELATED to find her unfinished tapestry the other day as we sorted through her box of treasures. She started this piece in the late 60’s and my childhood was colored by it. I would spend hours watching her work on it, helping her add stitches, laughing with her as she lost count, rubbing my hands over the texture, copying the images… the unfinished aspect is magical. I converse with her now as I look at the instructions and smell the wool.
Her basket also contains some smaller unfinished projects. I love this basket. LOVE. And so happy to have found it.
Karin Thorsen Sept 17, 1936- Nov 8, 2008
Many have asked me- when did you start making sock monkeys? I wasn’t raised on them. But I did catch the fever in my adulthood. I believe it was 1997.
My dear friend, filmmaker Patti Henderson, and I were at a flea market and saw a vintage sock monkey sitting on top of a shelf.
In my mind- events greatly exaggerated I’m sure- we lunged at it at the same time, in slow motion. Patti won. And I’ve been chasing that first high ever since. Consuming me! I’ve made hundreds of sock monkeys since that fateful day. I’ve been a part of (through teaching, facilitating, inspiring, whatever) thousands since then.
This monkey is my GOD.
I often wonder what would have happened if I had reached that monkey first. Would I be who I am today?
I sometimes fall into darkness and need a roadmap to guide my way out.
I find these roadmaps in gentle crafting, especially the act of the running stitch.
The act captures the dark thoughts. It lightens me by its simple steps.
It is a metaphor for where I want to go and where I have been.
The stitches hold the dreams I have for my children.
The short term feels stressful, complicated. The long term feels hopeful, exciting! The moment, this moment feels joyful and perfect. We only have the present moment. So in this moment, playing hide and seek with my nephew, Henrik, amidst squeals of laughter, my life is joyful. And perfect. And perhaps, most (not all, but most) moments can hold joy and perfection, depending on our point of view.
… every thing that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment…