Wednesday Evening Open House for Individuals or Group Studio Visits



"Awaking to the Possibilities of Joy"
    Launching Quilt Square Workshops
Go to Meditation Gallery
Survivor/Artist Quilt Squares
Making the Quilt Squares
Process as Important as Product
Time Commitment
Workshop Scheduling
Workshop Leaders

Early funding support through
The Millennium Bureau of Canada.
Thanks to Jean Chrétien, Prime Minister


Launching Quilt Square Workshops

After six years of conceptual development and an extensive art research period, the initial pilot workshop for sculpting The Child Abuse Survivor Monument Quilt Squares began in January of 1997. Six survivor/artists worked for six weeks, each making one sculpted quilt square and three accompanying poems.

It was noteworthy that most of the themes and images were about positive messages, altruism, empowerment and hope for a positive present and future.

To date, the quilt squares by survivor/artists both trained and untrained, have been remarkable works of art and are in themselves powerful societal and personal statements.

Each survivor's life experience provides ample inspiration and focus to artistically create their squares, and these in turn portray the messages of The Child Abuse Survivor Monument Project.

Before the end of 1998, The Child Abuse Survivor Monument Project was able to see over 100 survivors of childhood abuse collaborate on social action through the creative process of sculpting and writing. The concerted effort during this period of the project's development was a significant step in solidifying its developing community. This greatly helped to establish the long term viability of this enormous and complex project.

The creation of a series of
sculpting workshops with
participants from across

Canada, produced more
than 200 poems and the
early 186 individual hand
impressions, over a period
of four years. Two years of
sculpting by 14 international
professional artists, lead by
Dr. Michael C. Irving,
transformed the hundreds of
quilt squares into a large size



Survivor/Artist Quilt Squares

A central focus and theme of each quilt square is the sculpted hand of each participating survivor/artist. The hands reaching out of the squares create a powerful image, making real the presence of the survivors. Like the names on the Vietnam Memorial, the hands of survivors remove the distance of an unidentified "them."

To create the wax sculpting palette, a plaster impression is taken of each survivor/artist's hand. A positive wax image of the hand is placed on a l0 x l0 x 3/4 inch wax square. Within the l0 x l0 inch wax palettes, survivor/artists write or sculpt whatever images they desire. Some of the squares are filled with detailed imagery. Others have simple but poignant forms. Quilt squares may have a lot of writing, no writing or just a couple of words.

The sculpted quilt squares will as well become the source, through recasting into individual cast paper replicas, of art works for a national travelling art and educational exhibition.


Making The Quilt Squares

Sculpting and writing workshops were a central feature to creating the "Reaching Out" Monument and the "Reaching Out" Art and Educational Exhibition. Workshops also provided a safe setting and experience in which survivors of childhood abuse could facilitate healing, recovery and a sense of empowerment in themselves and each other.


Safety was created by the
environment the workshops
were held in and by the
people who lead and
participated in the workshops.
At times the room was full of
chatter and other times the
silence reflected the depth of
artistic passion.



Process as Important as Product

The words of participating survivor/artists most effectively portray the value of the workshops:

"I liked the chance to create myself anew. Making the quilt square was like telling my story in a condensed way;"

and for another,

"It was a way to constructively channel my rage and hurt. I also hope to heal this wound. Initially, I was afraid of the wax. It brought up issues of making contact, touching and being touched. Finally, feeling the resistance of the wax proved grounding and reassuring."

One survivor/artist stated,

"When I had an image of the project, I had a transformation wash over the whole of me. A shame left that I have never been able to get rid of. I felt empowered. The change has been permanent."

It is clear from these comments that the process of creating the sculpture is as important as the final exhibition.

Look, Friend

That was me
bent in sorrow,
locked in shame,
lost in fear.

See how I've grown.
I can hold my self
in the palm of my hand,

Tree and flower honour their felled
with life,
and so can I.

Hand in hand, we touch the sky.





Time Commitment

Initially the workshops were conducted on a 2 hours, once weekly basis for six weeks. Over time several models for conducting the workshops were developed. Approximately half the remaining workshops to take place in 1999 took place in Toronto in six 2 hour sessions over a 3 month period. The remaining workshops took place in a single five-day intensive or in 2 three-day intensive workshops approximately one month apart. These intensive workshops were designed for participation of survivor/artists in other parts of Canada.

It took a lot of work to sculpt a quilt square. Three month workshop participants needed to spend time designing and sculpting in the two week intervals between sessions. Sculpting could done alone or a buddy system could be set up for sculpting together between workshops.

For Toronto Region participants, the sculpting studio was open during the week and on Saturday afternoons for dropping by to sculpt. The split weekend workshops outside of Toronto had to have a formal support program scheduled for between workshops. Those in the five day intensive workshop had to expect to spend the majority of that period dedicated to sculpting.


Sara researched a variety of
native imagery to decide on
detail and create the composition
the cradle board and medicine
wheel on her quilt square.



Art and Writing Workshop Schedules

The workshop session had a general structure that was flexible in relation to the group and its participants, the progress of quilt squares and requirements for completing quilt squares and poems over the allocated workshop period.

(Session 1) Introduction meeting

  • personal introductions
  • why people are doing the workshop and what do they hope to accomplish
  • present the cautions and personal guidelines
  • present the process
  • overview of workshop series sculpting and writing
  • sign release forms
  • make plaster casts of hands
  • provide sample of wax and necessary tools

(Session 2) Sculpting

  • check-in with one another 10 minutes
  • sculpting for 1 hour and 45 minutes
  • clustering 20 minutes
  • closure 5 minutes; share phone numbers

(Session 3) Sculpting

  • check-in with one another 10 minutes
    sculpting for 1 hour and 45 minutes
    closure 5 minutes

(Session 4) Sculpting

  • check-in with one another 10 minutes
    sculpting for 1 hour and 45 minutes
    clustering 20 minutes
    closure 5 minutes; share phone numbers

(Session 5) Sculpting

  • check-in with one another 10 minutes
  • sculpting for 1 hour and 45 minutes
  • closure 5 minutes

(Session 6) Sculpting and Closure

  • check-in with one another 10 minutes
  • sculpting for 1 hour and 45 minutes;
  • touch-up and final finish
  • clustering 20 minutes
  • closure 20 minutes

Making a Sculpted Quilt
Square and Hand
for the Monument



Workshop Leaders

Workshops were co-led by Project Lead Artist Michael Irving, Angela Kondrak, Jackie Turner, Maureen McGowan, Beth Newell, Lori Broad and Rachel Sankeralli. Beth, Lori and Rachel did Internship Credit through the project as part of their studies at ISIS (International School of Interdisciplinary Studies) a creative expressive clinical program.

Angela Kondrak, a sculptor
and massage therapist,
was part of the art
research group. She
served as the first workshop
co-leader and helped
define the structure
and approach to workshops.


Rachel and Beth help Stephen
who, after completing his
square, became a workshop
and filled in with workshop
assisting when necessary.
Stephen went on to apply
his organizational skills to a
successfull small business
while going to university.

Many workshop participants stopped
by the studio while Michael was
sculpting to work on their squares,
seek assistance and input or stop by
for coffee. Gary often lent a hand at
studio construction, pick up and
delivery of studio materials with his
truck or offering support to other
participants. Gary also went back to
school and applied his people skills
and construction background to
creating a small business.

Michael has been a professional artist and art teacher for more than thirty years. He has taught art from nursery and grade school, through to high school and on to the college and doctoral levels. In the monument studio he has the quality of being an invisible teacher - aware of all the squares unfolding in the studio and giving enough assistance that each square is an expression and reflection of each survivor/artist while at the same time having the technical quality of fine art.

As well as being an artist, Michael has extensive professional training and experience in working with survivor issues. He further offered to each participant his empathy as a fellow survivor of childhood abuse.




I started this class feeling emotionally distanced from what I was doing. I chose three little war figurines rather automatically. I didn't think they had any profound meaning. Then I was bored, not knowing what to do with them, frustrated, lacking the sculptor's skills.

Michael helped me and the little figures started to take shape. They started to take on a personal meaning and I began to realize I hadn't chosen them by accident. Three little figures, children, parts of me.

This morning people were running through my mind like crazy, people who judged me. I am mentally defending, justifying myself. Then as I ponder what it means, I am crying, crying I need forgiveness.

It has felt so good to find this outlet for artistic and emotional expression. Part of the benefit and healing has been to feel the pain of the past. A lot of fear of looking at the past and feeling the pain has been released. The pain is there if I choose not to work with it anyway.

I think I went back further with this experience to help heal my smallest self, the natural child that was suppressed early on. This growth is very important to me and I have been looking for a means to do it for a long time. I feel that I was ready for this step.. "When the student is ready, the teacher appears". Seems to fit here.


The Journey Back

It is a long journey
back through the labyrinth
that twisted the child and left it
killed a thousand times o'er
each milepost holds its own special pain.
In the twisting tortuous road
at whose end sits a tiny child
seated on the ruins of the past, crying
yearning to be taken home at last.


Home at Last

Under a blanket she cries.
It's as though none have eyes.
For they do not see her need.
Sent to her room with no one near.
The knot holes in the walls cannot hear.
There's cloying loneliness within
And the inner voices raise a din.
In yellow flowers she takes delight
And after the rain in the sunshine bright.
Feeling alone and left behind
Her needs become clear in my mind.
My hand reaches back over time
To gently draw her home at last
To love and to comfort; for the child is mine.


"Follow Site Web Ring"

End the cycle.
Give kids love!






Peace @ home.
Let's work it out.






You will be protected!




































The hand of a child
who will not be abused.
We can have this
dream come true.







Mike it possible.
Help us
stop the hooror.
for yourself.






Heal the path.
Your pain is Society's
Shame. .
Touch the Rainbow.





When I was 5
she was 4
I never knew
I didn't clue-in
until I was in my 40"s.
Now I can
REACH OUT to her.
Thank you Lord.






Child abuse affects
us all, if one hurts,
We all hurt.
Life together!!






REACH OUT to those
who are in need.
Always be patient and
Create you own style
and don't be afraid.
Every one is special
Don't forget
to love those who are
close to you.


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*All Rights Reserved
copyright (1991-2012)

Your Donations are Needed
to Bring the Child Abuse Monument Home from the Foundry

* Donations *
* Story of the Monument/Phases of the Project * Phase 1: Design * Phase II: Create * Phase III: Implement * Phase IV:Positioning *
* Monument Overview * Monument Project Organization * Project Story - Flash Movie *
* A Healing Monument * Monument as Social Action * A Gift for Allies in Healing *
* Artistic Director: Michael C. Irving, Ph.D. * Assisting Sculptors * Studio Visits *
* Monument Conception/Creation * Monument Sculpting * Casting the Bronze *
* Quilt Square Workshop Participants *
Heroes of the Monument * Facing Challenges * Monument Lessons * Monument Stories
* Self Care Activities for Survivors * Well Being * Creating Coping Lists * Meditation Gallery *
* Information on Child Abuse
* Types of Abuse * Impacts of Abuse * Responses to Abuse *
* Resource Links on Child Abuse *
* Survivor Monument Poetry and Quilt Square Books *
* Awareness Campaign * Research Forum * Cambridge Tour * DAS School *
Contribute a HandPrint Message for Placement Inside the Child Abuse Monument *
* Sponsorship as Healing * Sponsors * Local Sponsors * Sponsorship Opportunities *
* Unveiling *

*All Rights Reserved
copyright (1991-2012)