#WeAreKrass: Our artistic team
This clips are part of the video series #WeAreKrass (#WirSindKrass). With this series we offer a glimpse into the world of KRASS and the work of our artistic leaders, while at the same time providing insight into the contributions which nurture the KRASS success of our association.
In the categories of Dance, Fine Art, Music and Theater KRASS e.V. has implemented an abundance of projects over the last 10 years, affording free access to cultural education for all children and youth.
We thank our artistic leaders, who use their profession every day to shape the KRASS vision and carry it into the world. You guys are brilliant!
Mareike van Elsbergen
The certified Art therapy graduate, trained occupational therapist and accredited social pedagogue, Mareike von Elbergen, is so multi-faceted and inquisitive in the field of applied art therapy, that one is unable to pin down her work with one concept. She works primarily with the elderly, the disabled, and above all, with children.
In her creative workshops and projects in schools and kindergartens, she accepts the children as they are in the moment of her encounter with them. This is how it functions best in a refugee center, but also in many other projects, in which things revolve around strengthening and also very consciously defining children’s personalities and special attributes.
“KRASS means simply to be their” – to be their as a mirror that emphasizes strengths and understands things that elsewhere are considered as “weaknesses or deficiencies”, as neutral or even as hidden ability and strength. Personalities must be supported and strengthened – especially if children do not communicate very much with language – and for Mareike there are ways, particularly through observation, to get ideas as to what extent her students can be involved. “From every spot one can make something with creativity!” – this one can understand as the foundation of Mareikes attitude towards life, and as that which she teaches children to give them courage.
Barbara Rücker studied stage design and free art at the art academy of Düsseldorf, and up to the present she is self-employed as a stage and costume designer. She collected her many years of experience in over 38 theatres and opera houses in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Since 2014 she has also supported KRASS e.V. with her wonderful and always new project ideas. In the large theatres she particularly learned a lot about associating with people. Places where you are involved every day with a variety of people – from the diva to the workers and guests who “remain on the floor” – who could not be more diverse. This is particularly helpful to her in relation to the children and adolescents from the KRASS projects; because here also the diversity of the participants could not be more colourful and varied. Wether it has to do with simply providing them with a tool for self-realization, or taking them a step forward through empowerment and as as a stimulant to motivate them, she finds the right path through her perceptiveness and discipline. Thereby she cultivates a culture of respectful, open and honest communication, which is very well received by the children and adolescents.
In this video you will see an excerpt from the 3rd iteration of the project “Anders”, that she leads together with Jason Firchow. A Wonderful project!
Moussa Dialo (Sapali Düsseldorf)
The Senegalese, Moussa Diallo, has lived in Germany for 7 years, and among other things works for the NRW Dance House, and the Academy of Cultural Education in Remscheid.
In addition, he teaches Djembe drum courses at Duesseldorf primary schools, kindergartens and also for adults. Additionally, he offers ongoing courses in the context of NRW state programs for culture and schools, such as school-holiday workshops.
He grew up with West African rhythm and drum techniques, and until 2009 he toured around the world as a professional percussionist for the group “Djembe Rythme Guediwaye. In spain he founded the drum and dance group “Sapali Percussion,” thereby realizing numerous engagements and appearances.
His motto is “always be happy and grateful!” Not at all simple in a land where the people often suffer under stress and performance pressure. Moussa integrates his positive experiences into his pedagogic work with children and youth: stressed parents often indirectly take their own agitation out on their children – this becomes problematic in school, where sitting quietly and concentrating is rewarded, instead of counteracting their agitation via movement. “Drumming makes happy!” In his courses and workshops he passes this joy onto the children and is grateful for the time he can spend with them.
They often begin in a restrained manner, so that at least by the end, when drumming and singing are combined, all are joining in “loud and with taste!” After every drumming session he is exhausted and the kids are happy. In particular, he appreciates that children in financially weaker circumstances can participate and get free support through KRASS. It is evident that the children have fun, and he also especially likes to introduce them to his culture and the background of the songs.
Above all, respect for ones family and parents plays a large roll – the children also indirectly learn from him how they can confront problems with their parents differently than they did previously. Drumming is an outlet and at the same time generates satisfaction and community among the children. Drumming for inner stability and as a learning space for conflict resolution.
Painting and sculpting as a trustworthy level of communication: without question, in themselves these are already creative and beautiful activities.
But in this video Jenny Trautwein very clearly describes to what extent art can also become a safe space; a space in which one can relax, trust and be calm – maybe to assimilate a beautiful experience, but perhaps also to express problems or sorrow where one otherwise only finds difficult words.
Jenny, accredited in painting restoration, studied at the school of fine arts in Dresden. Currently she is self employed and is also the workshop leader at Ars Servandi in Duesseldorf. As the daughter of an artist she grew up with the smell of paint, and loves doing collaborative work with children.
Thus, through her involvement with KRASS she is also doing something that lies close to her heart. Jenny is a very empathetic, energetic and creative person, whose nature imparts both stability and esteem.
Through her understanding of art as a form of self protection, Jenny is able to negotiate the balancing act between maintaining a professional, emotional distance from the problems and fates of her participants, and practicing authentic sympathy at eye level.
For many adults, to create by hand something of ones own or something new, remains a dream, a horror, or maybe a thing that is “not possible”.
But if one observes crafting, sculpting, and painting children when they create their own, unique artworks with devotion, concentration and boundless creativity, then one foresees what Aischa Sabbouh-Eggert activates with her KRASS sewing workshops.
The accredited fine artist herself gladly works with needle and thread, and in addition she completed a tailoring apprenticeship under Toni Gard in Duesseldorf.
For most children, sewing is a totally new experience, and making a doll, for example, with a piece of material, a needle and a thread reveals a lot to them outside of their normal opportunities.
How big then is the surprise and pride in the personal achievement, when, through loving guidance, piece by piece, one accomplishes ones own little artwork.With children, this is often what results when Aischa emboldens them, and teaches them the art of Textile design. Furthermore, children often make something that not only delights them during the process of creation, but also long thereafter, because they can take their little masterworks home with them to have, hold and love.
Music can effect us in so many ways. It can make us sad, cheerful, happy and thoughtful, or all of these at once, regardless of our language, culture, age and gender.
“Music is the best medicine” says Amaia Arieta with assurance. And Amaia, a committed young Spaniard, has already achieved much with her love of music. Over the past 5 years she has taught and involved herself with children through a variety of social projects.
Currently she is studying music education at the music conservatory in Düsseldorf. There she also finds time for children, who are so dear to her heart.
Every week she plays music with the children at the Düsseldorfer Children’s Clinic, as part of the project “making music in the hospital.”
With her rolling trunk full of musical surprises, her temperament, empathy and good humour, Amaia offers children a chance to escape hospital life for a short time, and bonds with them in a positive way.
She gives the gift of joy, and joy is “life courage”! How it all looks can bee seen in this video, containing many beautiful pictures and impressions.
Jason Firchow has all that one requires to win over and motivate young people.
Namely: Coolness and enthusiasm for what he does!
Along with this he is highly skilled at leading youth projects in the areas of Hip Hop, Rap, Graffiti and so much more. Through to the present he has years of freelance experience in Media conception and production, and he has lead music education projects at institutions such as the Youth Theater and the NRW Dance Company.
Jason believes in the value of this work, and through it he seeks to create with others something new and exciting!
With his easy-going nature and empathy he produces a terrific, professional and productive atmosphere, in which young people can discover and explore their talents. Jason is actively involved in the living environment of many youth, he speaks their language and knows how one opens perspectives. He himself turned his hobby into a career.
KRASS is excited, Jason is excited and so are the youngsters! It doesn’t get better than this!
But it’s best to hear for oneself, what Jason has to say about it:
Illiana Bouloutsou is a Hip-Hop dancer with heart and soul. Dancing – for Illiana it is a passion, through which the body and soul become one. This vigour and passion is a part of the KRASS Project for children and youth, Hip Hop Workshop. Because people like Illiana are ready to share their power, and to motivate others, awesome projects for children like this may be set on their feet for the first time.
Here the children and youth can forget about their everyday worries, become empowered, find new friends, and celebrate collective success. It is outstanding anti-agression training, which supports the development and trengthening of healthy self-confidence. This engagement of people for people is endlessly valuable, because here something collective is carried out in a fun way.
The children and youth learn to trust one another, concentrate and work independently, and live out their creativity.
In the following video Illiana Bouloutsou personally explains why she believes in the KRASS vision, how this activity makes a difference, and what she wants to activate through her work.
Children and youth have an unbelievable capacity to be enthusiastic. This is clearly evident in the multi-faceted art projects of Anja Sonneson.
To try something new, play with colors, forms and materials, and create something unique and personal, provides empowerment, strengthens one’s self-confidence and awareness of personal ability, while also supporting creativity and openness.
“In fine art their is no right or wrong,” says Anja Sonneson.
The fine artist has worked with KRASS e.V. for years. “Once one becomes free of that which has been learned, one’s creativity and self-confidence grows”, she explains.
With much humour and empathy Anja opens new horizons for the children, and they are able to joyfully create far from the constraints of their daily lives. Through art they learn to communicate.
One also immediately notices Anja’s own enthusiasm for her valuable work. In the following video, the artistic leader Anja Sonneson personally explains to viewers why she believes in the KRASS vision, und what she wants to activate with her work:
It’s amazing what a handful of nails, a few meters of string and a wooden board can do.
Coordination, concentration and an inner, almost meditative calm set in at the same time. The final broad and satisfied smile rounds off the “mutable”. Exactly this own experience I would like to pass on in my workshops. The effect is equally exciting for “small” or “big”, but especially the children, whom KRASS addresses, can give free rein to their creativity and fade out or process the heavy everyday life for a while. No more but also no less is my drive. A nice feeling!
For Melanie Warnstaedt creative work has priority. During her apprenticeship as a goldsmith and her subsequent studies in design she learned how to create beautiful and special items. Her passion for photography has led her to another career path in which she captures emotional moments in her photos.
“I just like working with people and children and in my photo studio ‘Kleine Rückblicke’ (little flashbacks) in Moers I can realize this. In my life there was never only one path or direction and to date aside my work as a freelance photographer social engagements are an integral part of my life which is mainly one thing- happiness.”