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Silk Creations helps women to discover their gifts and talents and gives them tools to develop skills that will enable them to succeed in the workplace. It is an empowerment program that teaches women in poverty the process of painting on silk, creating one-of-a-kind hand painted pieces of art in the form of scarves, ties and cards to be sold to the public. Through this program, women learn the rules of the workplace and gain skills in decision-making, marketing, financial literacy, maintaining inventory and working as a team. They earn money through their work, gain confidence in themselves and learn to define themselves as artists and entrepreneurs.
Women become part of this program by passing through levels of involvement. Initially women begin participation in the weekly Open Studio. This program is open to all guests of St. Margaret’s House and allows an underserved population a means of expressing themselves through art. Through the process of art engagement women become emotionally stronger, feel that they have something to offer, increase their sense of personal well-being and emotional stability.
Women who show an interest in art and the ability to work with others are invited to be part of the Silk Creations empowerment program. There are three levels of involvement: Apprentice, Silk Artist and Master Artist. As skills are evaluated and benchmarks are met, woman move on to a higher level. They participate in training classes and demonstrate competence in several skill set areas: rules of the workplace, financial literacy, silk painting techniques, sales and marketing and mentoring of other women in the project. Each woman is partnered with an established artist of the program to foster skills.
The highest level is that of Master Artist. This designation will be given to those who have achieved the technical proficiency of not only painting on silk but also those who have demonstrated the ability to teach others about the process, maintained consistent business skills and adhered to studio rules. Master Artists will eventually host workshops to teach the art of silk painting to the general community. In this way, those who once were receivers of services at SMH now become teachers.
Since beginning in 2006, program sales have consistently increased. To date over 1200 original works of art in the form of hand-painted scarves, ties and cards have been sold. In 2011, a space in the St. Margaret’s House building was renovated to create a dedicated art studio. The Silk Creations empowerment model is unique to SMH. It incorporates years of research, and expands on best practices included in similar models, fostering a sense of well-being, coping skills, interpersonal relationships, work skills and leadership development using art as a vehicle for permanent change.
"When I go to an art show and I see something that I have done that others find beautiful it makes me feel really proud, - that I have accomplished something."
- Silk Creations Artist
"I am a patient person, I have learned to look at things positively. I feel confident about my leadership qualities, I have learned to work with people in a way that encourages them and encourages myself too. I want to strive to learn everything, even when things change."
- Silk Creations Artist