The Art of Transformation from Brokenness

A few weeks ago, the young people in our Crisis Program spent an evening creating art inspired by the Japanese restoration technique known as Kintsugi.

The activity that we encouraged them to try went something like this:

  1. Choose a flowerpot and spend some time making it your own by painting it
  2. Afterwards, carefully smash your pot into pieces with a hammer
  3. Then, repair your flowerpot with gold-coloured glue; experiencing its transformation into a new artwork

It’s a relatively simple activity, and definitely nowhere near as sophisticated and skill intensive as real Kintsugi. But regardless, the youth enjoyed it. On top of that, we were able to use the activity as a conversation starter and metaphor for transformation.

One of the ideas behind Kintsugi is the realization that something wonderful can be found in unexpected places. In particular, that what you might originally see as brokenness or imperfection can actually be transformed into strength and beauty.

We often talk about how we use a strength-based approach in the work we do here at Covenant House Vancouver. Our Social Workers in particular, often use this perspective when journeying with the young people to meet their individual life goals. We know that everyone has inherent strengths. But sometimes, because of difficult life circumstances or other hardships, they might not be able to see them. Or perhaps, they might even think their strengths are broken or worthless.

Our goal, then, is to build a trusting relationship with a young person; and to encourage them and walk alongside them – until they are able to recognize and celebrate their strengths.

We have the fantastic privilege of getting to accompany the young people here at Covenant House Vancouver; helping them to grow and transform into their beautiful true selves.

A few photos from our Kintsugi painting night: