InVisible Faces is a technique that resulted from the workshop Creative Voices of Women and the work of workshop facilitators Krisztina Katona and Eszter László. 1 It is based on a creative depiction of our face, and it enables us to consider how we perceive our identity in the present moment and to what extent is our face a reflection of the social environment we live in. The technique presents an opportunity for introspection, immersion into one’s imagination, thoughts, images, relationships, as well as creative expression in the form of a portrait of one’s face.
This technique strengthens the component of empathy for oneself, and it can follow on from the Dyad technique and the work with emotions. Its important feature is conscious work with the value of respect. It strengthens self-respect in the sense of to what extent and what exactly the young people want to share with a group. At the same time, it strengthens respect for others in the sense of what others feel like or need to present within the group. The technique can be conducted at the end of opening activities (An Everyday Object and You, The Boat, Dyads, work with a set of Feelings Cards and work with a set of Needs Cards). A creative portrayal of faces is another step towards intensifying an atmosphere of trust and getting to know each other.
Krisztina Katona and Eszter László are part of creative community Murál Moral Group, which encourages — with mural painting in public space — especially groups of children and young people threatened with social exclusion. ↩︎
“The young people undergoing a more difficult period of gender identity or sexual orientation self-realization in particular encounter concrete manifestations of stereotypes expressed by their family, peer groups, and media. These include how they should look, behave, or what partners they should look for. Moreover, if their gender identity or sexual orientation does not correspond with expectations of others, they get under even more pressure of these expectations, misunderstanding, or complete rejection. For many, the process of clarification of one’s existence is linked with questions and concern about how to communicate this topic. One way to support the young people in expressing more complex issues and situations encountered in their lives is a creative depiction of one’s ideas of who I am, who I want to become, what I feel, and what I think about. Having a chance to pause for a moment and think about what my wishes and dreams are, what motivates me, or makes me happy can help the young people to become conscious of resources available in their lives and where to draw strength or inspiration — which relationships make them stronger and what activities allow them to rest.”
Facilitator Team, NESEHNUTÍ
The activity can be carried out in groups of various sizes. It is good to always consider to what extent the participants will be inclined to present and share outputs of their work within a larger group and how to set a timeframe for closing reflection with regard to the group size. Everyone should have equal room for their presentation. It is also possible that other presentations may stimulate additional thoughts about one’s portrait, therefore (especially in larger groups) it is necessary to provide enough time considering the possibility of an additional input.
“Most of the available magazines weren’t for me. It was difficult to find something that relates to me.”
Feedback from Alex, 17 years old transgender man, on the magazines the participants could use to make a portrait of their faces. The magazine selection did not reflect the diverse gender identities of these young people sufficiently enough, and it was difficult for Alex to identify with the content. Therefore, during the activity preparation phase, it is important to keep in mind that materials offered to participants to work with should take into consideration a variety of gender identities.
The activity consists of 3 steps. First is to guide the participants through the process of how to create their own InVisible face. Next, each of them creates their InVisible face individually. The last step is the collective reflection of outputs, conclusion and, if needed, linking the activity to the following one.
“We would like everyone to have an opportunity for reflection and creative expression of who we are. Each of us has their face with which we enter this world and that others see. With the face, we express emotions, communicate, say what we think, want or do not want, and react to others that have certain opinions of us or demand something. Furthermore, the face reflects our inner life — our thoughts, wishes, ideas, and feelings. It is a reflection of how we perceive others. We notice what people think of us and, accordingly, we form our attitudes and emotions that our face can convey. Let us try to think about all things we perceive as an integral part of our life but are not visible immediately, at first glance. What do we experience, what do we think about, what do we like or not, who do we like, and who contributes to a state of our happiness or unhappiness? You can capture all of this on your InVisible face portrait, but only the things you want to share with others.”
Invite your participants to immerse in the creation of their face and to focus on themselves. You may create a good atmosphere by putting on some music during the activity. Allow sufficient time for the creative process, so that nobody feels under pressure.
“It is important to trust your intuition. You can fill the whole paper or just parts of it. Consider whether blank spaces also play some role in the context of your portrait or not.”
“And can I paint a beard on my face?”
Alex’s comment, 17 years old transgender man. During the creative process, facilitators support participants not only in their efforts to capture the invisible aspects of their inner self but also in attempts to express various needs and wishes that relate to their physical appearance. For the young transgender people, this activity can be a way to express their desired look for the first time.
We display the finished portraits in a room and ask each participant to present theirs to others. How much to share and how concrete to be is up to each of them. When participants do not want to go into the specifics, the following questions might help to facilitate a discussion:
Was it difficult or easy for us to create the portrait?
Has anything crossed our minds during the making process that we did not think about yet?
Did we have a clear idea of what to create, or did we get it from looking through pictures, slogans, and words in magazines?
“We will leave our portraits where they are — with us — because they may inspire us in the following activities. If we think about specific moments when we encountered stereotypes, our portrait may remind us who and what is important for us and with who and how to face negative experiences of stereotypes. In the following work, we may come up with more ideas that we would like to add to the portrait. Let us write them down, so we will not forget. If they cross our mind, they are important and may provide inspiration for the following activities.”
“My face is covered with smiles and with what I like. There is food and sleep which is what people usually notice at first glance and think that’s what I like. Everyone tells me that I am [such a] smiling and happy [person]. But no one notices that there’s a wall in my eyes, and I’m hiding something. I try not to show my emotions — at least the negative ones — too much. And also, my whole face is created as one photo frame — it’s not possible to get the whole story from it.”
the presentation of Elen’s InVisible face, 22 years, transgender woman