"dear Me Festival! Imagining better being through Arts and Wellbeing for Children" Date: 2018/9/22, Venue: Hill Side Plaza (29-10 Sarugakucho, Shibuya, Tokyo) Drawing by Ryo Hirano (FOGHORN).

"Sky and Snail" Creative workshop by Fumito Urabe, based on a myth from a southern island, 2017. Photo by Yukiko Koshima.

Workshop "Translating Cities" 2017, Eva Masterman & Jackson Sprague (2016 AIT Residency Artist). Photo by Yukiko Koshima.

Workshop "Translating Cities" 2017, Eva Masterman & Jackson Sprague (2016 AIT Residency Artist). Photo by Yukiko Koshima.

Fumito Urabe, "Land flowing with Honey", 2016. Courtesy: Artist and Gallery SIDE2

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dear Me is a collaborative project between the non profit organization Arts Initiative Tokyo [AIT] and The Nippon Foundation, which focuses on play and learning through art, with the goal of creating a society where all children are encouraged to build their hopes and dreams.

ToolsforChildrenandArtistsLearning Through art experiences, we intend to enrich children’s learning experience and enhance their emotional connection with the world, as well as consider the creation of a better society for everyone.

Directed towards children in various living situations, including those in children’s homes, dear Me aims to convey an expansive view of the world by bringing out the power of imagination and self-expression within each child through art, enriching their learning experience and enhancing their emotional connection to the world. In art, there are no fixed answers, and by freely embracing one’s own thoughts and discoveries, doors can open to new worlds. Encountering what is unknown or incomprehensible and expressing their ideas about the experience can plant seeds in children’s imaginations, bringing small changes to their perspectives and holding the potential to expand their world. In addition, dear Me aims to inspire artists through their interaction with children, and create a platform where adults and children can expand their creativity while collaborating together.

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Through various means, the project will create a platform where children, artists, experts, supporters and people from different fields can gather and learn together, revealing hints for the creation of a better society for everyone including children and people facing difficulties. Directed towards those who wish to explore the potential of art and those who wish create a better society together with children, the project aims to consider the future for children, welfare, and art.

To All Children, and Those Who Used to be One
Bringing the Faraway Closer
In life, there are times when what seemed to be something taking place in a faraway land was actually happening just a short distance away.

Today, there are many people facing all kinds of challenges in their lives.
They lack things that are often taken for granted.
Quite often, their voices go unheard. But it could be that child next door, or one of your own family members who is faced with such difficulties.

Sometimes, art lets us imagine an unseen future or unknown world. What is taken for granted here may not be the same elsewhere, and artists have always searched for new ways of thinking by recreating or breaking what is taken for granted.

What do you feel and think when you encounter art or something incomprehensible?
Of course, there are many equally valid answers.
Once in a while, it may be good to reconsider things that were unclear, or thoughts that lingered in the back of your mind.

Why did you feel that way?
Why did it stay with you?
What does it mean not to understand?

It might be better to talk about it with someone.
From there, you may discover a new perspective about yourself and the world around you.

Expanding our imaginations, considering what is distant as something close to hand, and caring more about others as though we were caring about ourselves may be the first steps to making this world a more comfortable place for everyone.
Caring About Others as Though Caring About Yourself

What seemed like something happening in a faraway land was actually happening very close at hand.
In this world we live in, we frequently run into situations like this.
The world and most of what happens in it are more or less interconnected, and if we lose our balance, the surroundings will become distorted ? this is how our lives are made up.

Today, there are many people facing all kinds of ‘challenges’ in their lives.
Things that are ‘taken for granted’ by many are missing for them.
Quite often, the voices of those people are deeply hidden and not heard - but it could be the person next door to you, your friend or your family that is faced with these difficulties.
Sometimes, art lets us imagine an unseen future or unknown world.
What is ‘taken for granted’ here may not be the same elsewhere, and artists have always searched for new ways of thinking by recreating or breaking ‘what is taken for granted’.
To expand our imaginations and care more about others ‘as though caring about ourselves’ may be the first step to making this world a more comfortable place for everyone.

Providing Opportunities for Children to Meet the Unknown

Upon hearing the word ‘art’, some may think of it as being difficult and incomprehensible - but there are no fixed ‘answers’ in art.
Art is like opening a door to an unknown world by being open to your thoughts and discoveries, while exploring the minds of art creators.
Children can expand their world through encounters with the ‘unknown’ or ‘incomprehensible’ and discussing them, which then becomes the seeds of imagination, bringing small changes to how they view the world.
dear Me’ is a learning project for those that wish to explore the possibilities of art and are looking to create a better society with children.

Reaching Out to Areas with Fewer Opportunities for Art and Expression

Art and expression can sometimes change difficult situations.
For example, there is an approach at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, in which Alzheimer patients and their families visit the museum together to talk about what they discovered from art pieces in front of them.
By thinking together about stories, shapes, and colors that can be interpreted from art pieces, they can exchange their thoughts, creating new kinds of relationship, transcending the boundaries between ‘those giving care and those receiving care’, with art pieces presenting unlimited meanings.
Art can sometimes become a device to break down all kinds of boundaries - this enables us to learn how others view the world.
Perhaps there is significance in art being alongside the people in areas where, for some reason, there are fewer opportunities to experience art and expression.

Meeting the Many ‘Me’

‘Me’ as a child.
‘Me’ today.
‘Me’ in the future.
The private ‘Me’.
The public ‘Me’.
In whichever state, you are a unique ‘Me’ in that moment.
Accept your divergent thoughts, take a deep breath, and try to become conscious of ‘yourself’ - the ‘Me’.

Listening to ‘Your’ Voice

egghug Even among siblings, depending on their birthplace, environment and experiences, each person will have a different set of values - no one is the same.
Acknowledge that everyone is different, learn the differences between us, discover our likes and dislikes, and keep your ears open to your own voice.
If you expand your imagination from there, it may lead to lending your ears to others: to someone far away or someone you have never met, or to someone close to you that you thought you knew.