Beautiful Tote Bags: After-School Workshop 4 of 12 at Red Hook Initiative

April 17, 2015 - Arts & Dreams worked with middle-school aged young women at Red Hook Initiative in our 4th of 12 empowering art workshops. The focus was on personal power.

We had a rich and rewarding discussion highlighting how empowering it feels when we practice self love. The young women opened up with comments and questions about bullying, snide remarks from other kids, feeling unliked, aggression and fighting. Laura and Patricia shared that the better we get at affirming ourselves, the stronger we feel, and the more supportive people we attract. The negative people begin to sense that we love ourselves, and they don't mess with us as much. And if they do, we speak up, we bring peace, we tell an adult, we believe in our worthiness of love and we don't take any shame personally. We know that bullies often are suffering more than we are, that's why they lash out. When we love ourselves, we don't need to lash out. We feel healthy.

To expand our self love, we painted tote bags with fabric paints, bringing beautiful colors, phrases and designs to a plain cotton bag. These bags will carry our things and our hopes and dreams, as well. A very rewarding workshop.

Thank you to Deanna at RHI, our middle school artists for their honesty and creativity, and all of our donors for making our work possible.

Photos by Patricia Geremia and Laura Baran


Tshirt Postivity: After-School Workshop 3 of 12 at Red Hook Initiative

Arts & Dreams shared the 3rd of 12 empowering art workshops at Red Hook Initiative (RHI) on April 10, 2015. Co-founders Laura Baran and Patricia Geremia worked with high school student leaders and LGBTQ activists. We talked about issues facing teens today, the pressures of life, depression, suicide, sex, drugs, gangs, parents and school. In terms of empowerment, life is filled with challenges and it's our choice to decide if we want to consider them as opportunities and to learn how to love ourselves through them. The discussion focused on encouraging students to view themselves as leaders, hope-bringers, and unique individuals worthy of living their dreams. One key to help us remember to follow our dreams, let alone believe we're meant to have those dreams, Laura explained, is to practice self-love. As a fun way to expand self-love, we gave everyone a white tshirt, multi-colored fabric paints and beginners painting instruction. Each workshop participant painted beautiful tees with positive messages and designs, wearable art to uplift and inspire them. Then the students discussed why they chose their words and images and what the project meant to them. Later, we introduced the practice of mirror work to close out the workshop, as we always do, because it feels good to say loving words into a mirror, and everyone got a chance to try it.
Thank you Ericka, the wonderful group leader, and everyone at RHI for an amazing workshop.
Photos by Patricia Geremia and Laura Baran


Affirmation Paintings: After-School Workshop 1 of 12 at the Red Hook Initiative

March 27, 2015
Friday after-school programming was in full swing at the Red Hook Initiative (RHI) in Brooklyn. Pizza and salad was available for youth to enjoy and music was coming from the main room as the students unwinded. For the middle-school aged young women of RHI's Mirrors of Strength group, Arts & Dreams shared the first of 12 workshops. Our activities focused on creating art that empowers self-love and hope, led by Arts & Dreams' co-founders Laura Baran and Patricia Geremia. Once Laura shared her background challenges growing up and then making art to heal herself after her brother's suicide, a rich experience took place. Through discussion and painting, the group seemed to express a real understanding of their worthiness of living the life of their dreams, and engaging in acts of creative kindness to self. They painted personal positive affirmations on stretched canvas, discussed why they created their art and spoke loving words to themselves in a mirror. A big thanks to Deanna Cherry and Jade Elias for making this workshop series possible! Also to everyone at the Red Hook Initiative and all of our generous donors for their support. 
Photos by Patricia Geremia


Affirmation Paintings at Passages Academy, Bronx Hope

ON TRACK by Arts & Dreams Workshop Facilitator Zyambo "Z" Phillips
Arts & Dreams shared two empowering art workshops in the Library at Passages Academy, Bronx Hope. The students are incarcerated, have been through major life challenges, and all expressed interest in art to Librarian Ms. Anja Kennedy, who invited us back to talk about self-love, hope and how to paint positive affirmations on stretched canvas.

It was a thrill to be joined by the talented actress Nikki E. Walker who talked about what it means to live your dreams no matter what. Our facilitator Zyambo Phillips shared that when it may feel like the end, it's not the end. Life does move on.

We're unable to show the students' faces to protect their anonymity. Their creativity shines in their art, and in the art made by the staff and teachers. We carried the spirit of fun into the rest of our day, getting a little childlike in our storage space. Enjoy pics by Arts & Dreams co-founder Patricia Geremia! Thanking everyone at Passages for all the love you give to students.

Staff member Denice Martin-Thompson creates these beautiful notebooks! Check out

Make Ur Haters Ur Motivators

Thanksgiving Affirmation Painting Workshop

On Saturday, November 16, we hosted a Thanksgiving Affirmation Painting workshop at Alchemical Theatre Lab in NYC. 

We discussed the power of self-love, self-kindness, and thankfulness as a practice to heal and uplift. 

Patricia led a meditation, Laura gave painting instruction and everyone made acrylic paintings on canvas - personally meaningful to them. 

The paintings feature affirmations - positive, loving statements to self - and embodied the intention of inspiring their creators. 

Between painting, Patricia gave free mini-Reiki sessions that included essential oil aromatherapy and angel card readings. 

We wrapped up by talking about why we made our paintings and what they mean to us. Each of us looked at ourselves in a mirror and spoke kind words. 

We're thankful for everyone who came out! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!
~ Laura & Patricia of Arts & Dreams

Power of You: Kindness and Self-Empowerment Through Art Workshop with Life Vest Inside at Brooklyn College

Arts & Dreams led a workshop with Life Vest Inside called "Power of You" with students at Brooklyn College. We explored the quality of our loving relationships with ourselves, how it affects our perceptions and interactions with others and how creativity empowers us to treat ourselves with more kindness.  
The students were overflowing with creative ideas and they used acrylics on canvas to paint positive mantras and messages for themselves. Thank you Brooklyn College, Orly Wahba and everyone at Life Vest Inside for inviting us to be a part of this uplifting event that left us so inspired!  
Enjoy these pictures taken by Nancy for Life Vest Inside and Arts & Dreams co-founder Patricia Geremia.


Painting Affirmations with House of the Roses Volunteer Dance Company

We gave an empowering art workshop on April 6, 2014, with volunteers from House of the Roses Volunteer Dance Company, an organization that provides free dance lessons to young people faced with homelessness and poverty. Together we discussed ways to use art to help young people love themselves using different art forms to encourage and empower children to live their dreams.

The House of the Roses volunteers created their own affirmation art on stretched canvases. They intend to bring affirmations and visual art to the children they work with. And we did mirror work - saying something loving to ourselves while looking into a mirror.

Coming into spring in the northeast, it was wonderful to sit outside and spend a meaningful afternoon in Jersey City with House of the Roses, captured in these photos through the lens of Arts & Dreams co-founder Patricia. This was Arts & Dreams' first workshop outside of NY in Laura Baran's home state of New Jersey. Thanks to Lauren Fakete and everyone at House of the Roses, for all that you do to help young people!

Final Workshop in Our Series of 7 with Youth at Red Hook Initiative: Dream Boards

On March 5, 2014, we shared the final Arts & Dreams empowering art workshop in our series of 7 with middle-school youth during their after school programming at Red Hook Initiative

We reviewed the previous six workshops and what we accomplished together - learning to love ourselves, being kind, using our creativity and dreaming big! Everyone has something unique to offer and our role is to discover what our unique gift that brings us joy and to share it with others. 
Creating a Dream Board is a visual reminder of what we love and want in life, which helps invite our big dreams into reality. We provided stretched canvases, acrylic paints, photos, appliques and images from magazines. We printed some of Patricia's photos from our previous workshops for the youth to keep or use on their Dream Board. 

Before we wrapped up with mirror work, we had two more surprises: cupcakes from Billy's Bakery and a special reading of the Arts & Dreams book draft. While they snacked, we explained we're writing a book - which no one else has seen yet - about the topics we've discussed and the art we created during our workshops: how we can use creativity to empower ourselves, to dream big dreams, and to truly love who we are. We are grateful that our buddies at RHI agreed to give a listen and an affirming nod to our dream creation in draft form!

It’s been a beautiful journey with RHI this winter, and we remain so inspired by the amazing group of youth. We were there to educate, and we wound up learning so much from you all. Thank you, Samora Coles, Jade Elias, Ricky Santana and everyone Red Hook Initiative. Onward, youth! You're all unique geniuses and we love you!


Fifth of 7 Workshops with Youth at Red Hook Initiative: Self-Love Valentines

This week in celebration of Valentine’s Day, we wanted to do something especially self-loving with the middle-school youth at Red Hook Initiative

Laura drew big red hearts on the dry-erase board and invited everyone to etch out an empowering word or phrase inside the hearts using their pinkie fingers. 

We talked in a big circle about how everyone’s week went, as well as using affirmations, observing negative thoughts and saying loving things in the mirror. One thing about questions we learned from Dr. Lissa Rankin is to ask meaningful ones, so we also asked if there were any moments they felt appreciated or upset, and we talked from there.

Patricia led an 8-minute guided meditation to relax and center us. As we inhaled deeply she guided us to imagine ourselves floating on a fluffy, light and loving cloud. As we exhaled, we imagined placing all of our worries inside a colorful balloon. We watched in our minds as we let it float far away, and when we could barely see it in the distance, it burst with our worries, disintegrating them completely. We repeated this several times and then imagined ourselves floating back down on our cloud while feeling warmth in our hearts and saying, “I am amazing. I am special. I am unique. I am loved.” 

This week the empowering art came in the form of creating unique hand-written love letters to ourselves. Most agreed that it is sometimes easier to tell other people how special they are and how much we love them, than it is to tell ourselves. 

Everyone decorated the cards beautifully using markers, colored pencils, stickers, photographs from PatriciaG Photos and paper square appliques. Some were inspired by "Power Thoughts for Teens" cards by Louise Hay that we put on the tables. These special self-love Valentine's Day cards are super heart-warming. We addressed envelopes to ourselves and mailed them.

As always, we ended the workshop by passing around our heart-shaped mirror and saying something loving to ourselves while looking into our eyes. Then we surprised the kids with organic chocolate chip cookies! It’s Valentine’s Day after all. 

Thanks RHI! We love being with you guys. Thanks to PatriciaG Photos for these lovely pics. Excited to be back in two weeks for workshop #6 - Universe Boxes! 

Third of 7 Workshops with Youth at Red Hook Initiative: Positive Messages on T-Shirts

On January 29, 2014, Arts & Dreams returned to Red Hook Initiative for our third empowering art workshop in a series of seven, held after school with middle-school youth. We talked about paying attention to the words we think and say about ourselves and each other. Laura and Patricia shared their experiences with depression, self-hate and grief and the realization that we are free to make a better-feeling choice in how we think about ourselves. Patricia led the group in a calming, dreamy visualization and breathing exercise that anyone can use at any time to feel more centered and peaceful. We gave the middle-schoolers fabric paint and t-shirts. They created positive wearable messages. Their creativity rocked! We wrapped up by saying (or thinking) something nice while looking into a mirror. A quick pick-me-up that we can make into a new habit whenever we see ourselves.


Thank you, everyone at RHI, for all your help with everything and for having us share empowerment and creativity with community youth! Thanks to our Patricia Geremia of PatriciaG Photos for these pics. Next week: Gratitude Journals!

First of 7 Workshops with Youth at Red Hook Initiative: Affirmation Paintings

On January 15, 2014 Arts & Dreams kicked off the first of a 7 workshop series with middle school youth at the Red Hook Initiative in Red Hook, Brooklyn. First up, Affirmation Paintings. We began a discussion on what it means to love yourself, and how challenging that can be. We talked about paying attention to our thoughts and focusing on the ones that feel good. We learned about positive affirmations: loving, kind sentences that we can think or say to give ourselves a boost. After a simple breathing exercise we all painted positive affirmations with acrylic paint on stretched canvas. The creativity in the room was inspiring. Then we talked about why we painted the words and images we did, said loving affirmations while looking into our own eyes in a mirror, and gave ourselves a big round of applause.
Thanks for having us, RHI! We are so excited to see you all again next week!


photos by Patricia Geremia of PatriciaG Photos

Get Your Wellness On! Annual Suicide Awareness and Prevention Fair

We founded Arts & Dreams to foster feelings of hope and love in children, so they might learn to go easier on themselves and believe in their dreams. Our mission is suicide prevention through self-love, wrapped in papers and magic markers. We were thrilled to be a part of Get Your Wellness On! again this year. It's an annual suicide awareness and prevention fair in Washington Square, New York City, founded by Esmeralda Signore-Noble, who lost her son Andrew to suicide while he attended NYU. Esmeralda and Melissa Beh organize this free event for all ages to enjoy healing in the form of yoga, kung fu, Reiki, massage, dance, music, and art. Arts & Dreams had the fortune of having Dr. Liz Lasky, LCSW, PhD, at our table. Liz is a specialist in bullying, cyberbullying, teen dating violence, and relationship abuse, and our friend. We invited kids, teens and adults to make drawings of things they like about themselves and their lives, something that makes them smile and feel good. Their affirmation art was theirs to take home. We had a great day meeting new people and seeing friends. Big thank you to Matt Green for helping out and taking great pictures while Patricia Geremia was at a family wedding.

Affirmation Art Workshop for Adults at the New York Public Library

On August 12, 2013 Arts & Dreams visited the New York Public Library at Kips Bay with an empowering art workshop for adults. We were thrilled to share creative ways to feel more hope and love in such an inspiring institution as the NYPL. We came early to select books from the shelves on the 1st floor that might inspire - art books on Matisse and American painters, photography landscapes, and decorative books about horses and flowers. And we pulled Louise Hay's book "You Can Heal Your Life" which illuminates the importance of loving ourselves and using affirmations. In a closed room on the 3rd floor, where we were free to decorate and play soft classical music from a playlist, we gave a free affirmation art workshop for teens and adults. Patricia and I (Laura) shared our experiences with depression, self-doubt and self-hatred. We demonstrated how making hopeful affirmation art, by creating a kind sentence and personal imagery, can serve to heal our negative inner-talk. Affirmation art combines language and color to become a beautiful, resonant thought-drawing. The act of discussing feelings and creating new hopeful phrases to reflect upon has the potential to empower us to believe in our dreams. When our creations were done, we all said something sweet to ourselves while looking in Patricia's silver hand mirror. We have permission to share photos of some of the participants and their beautiful affirmation art. Thank you to Kaydene and the Kips Bay NYPL library staff for welcoming us. And thank you to Elizabeth McCall Walsh and Patricia Geremia (PatriciaG Photos) for the fabulous photos.

Arts & Dreams at the Children's Museum for the Arts (CMA) Aug 3!

We were thrilled to provide an Arts & Dreams Empowering Art Workshop as guest artists at the Children's Museum of the Arts (CMA) in SoHo on August 3rd. CMA is a gorgeous mecca for kids and all things art. We were fortunate to paint "affirmation art" under a giant dream catcher, hand made by kids that week and decorated with construction paper feathers on which they wrote their dreams. During our workshop, we invited museum patrons to paint words and images depicting things they love about themselves and their lives. The purpose of making affirmation art is to empower us to feel more love for ourselves and inspire more hope for our dreams to come true, all while experiencing the joy of painting. From toddlers to grandparents, we met and painted with all ages. We loved being guest artists at CMA and we thank Jen, Jess and everyone on staff for welcoming us. Can't wait to come back! Here are some pictures of our workshop taken by our own Patricia Geremia:

Arts & Dreams at Grand Street BID's Block Party July 13!

Party on! We had fun making empowering art with local Brooklynites at the Grand Street BID's Weekend Walk Block Party. Now a yearly event that Arts & Dreams has proudly been a part of for 2 years, this Block Party on Grand Street in East Williamsburg provides a "car-free oasis" where partying in the middle of the street is the name of the game. Everyone who visited the Arts & Dreams tent created drawings about things they like about themselves and their lives. We talked about paying attention to the words we speak to ourselves, and how creating positive, uplifting messages of gratitude and celebration can soothe us from within. Things feel better and our lives tend to flow easier when we're soothed and feeling good about ourselves. Laura Baran created free portrait drawings for some folks, and Patricia Geremia took most of the photos below. Hope you enjoy these images of our experience sharing empowerment through creativity on Grand Street as much as we enjoyed being there. A big thanks to Artineh and everyone at the Grand Street BID for having us back. And another big thanks to our helpful workshop facilitator, Matt Green.

Another awesome Arts & Dreams empowering art workshop for adults!

We just wrapped up another fun Arts & Dreams empowering art workshop for adults held at Alchemical Theatre Lab on 14th Street, NYC on April 6, 2013. Together we discussed what it means to love ourselves. Laura and Patricia shared some of their experiences growing up with low self-esteem and how they began empowering themselves by using their creativity to boost their self-love. After Laura demonstrated some tips on how to paint with acrylics, everyone painted creative affirmations on their individual stretched canvas. Their art making was an opportunity to paint a phrase that resonated with them. At the end of the workshop, we went around the room and everyone talked about what inspired them to make their paintings. It was a great way to hear everyone's story - whether they were going through a break up or a new job - and the paintings became more than positive phrases. The paintings spoke to what was going on in their lives in that moment and created a connection between us all. Everyone looked into their own eyes with Patricia's silver hand mirror and said something nice to themselves. Gene-Manuel Whirling, artist and creator of The Whirling Blog shot some video testimonials that we'll post shortly. It was an awesome workshop!

Arts & Dreams ♥Valentine's Workshop♥ at JivamukTea Cafe

Valentine's Week ♥ February 12, 2013
Arts & Dreams practiced the art of self-love with an affirmation painting workshop hosted by JivamukTea Cafe in Union Square. Laura Baran talked about creative expression, and its huge role in helping her learn how to love herself. Painting loving affirmations and hanging them up to look at every day imprinted her mind with new, kind thoughts and contributed to easing her lifelong depression. She explained how we can all use our creativity to train our minds to think more lovingly. And, as Louise Hay says, when we really love ourselves, everything in our life works. This workshop was dedicated to Pat Geremia, mother of Arts & Dreams Co-Founder Patricia Geremia. Pat's loving kindness and generosity are unmatched. She only knew giving and she is forever in our hearts. We love you!
Great big thank yous to Tau Braun and everyone at JivamukTea Cafe for hosting us, to Gnosis chocolate and The Squeeze for fantastic giveaways, and to all of you awesome Arts & Dreamers.

Arts & Dreams Holiday Affirmation Painting Party!

Happy holidays, everybody!
On December 14, 2012, Arts & Dreams threw our first Holiday Affirmation Painting party at the Alchemical Theatre Laboratory in New York City.
There were holiday cookies, sparkling cider, and twinkling lights.
We brought some fragrances and other goodies for a free raffle.
We talked about self love. Every single person thinks thoughts that can be hurtful and often we save the cruelest ones for ourselves. And then we believe the thoughts we habitually think. All habits can be changed. Thoughts come and go. We can choose which thoughts we want to believe. And we can replace the habitual mean thoughts with sweeter ones. We spoke about the ease that arises when we treat ourselves with kindness and appreciation. Painting a loving image is a way to have fun while practicing self love.
We held a moment of silence to send healing love and light to the town of Newtown, CT. And then everyone was off, painting their own stretched canvas with a kind, loving thought and beautiful colors to beautify their home and their spirits for the season.  
Patricia gave her powerful and healing Angel Card readings.
Some gorgeous affirmation paintings emerged.
We all looked into our own eyes in Patricia's silver hand mirror and said or thought something loving to ourselves. 

We had the most wonderful time :).
Happy, healthy, love-filled Holidays to you all!

Paintings to Boost Self-Love with Local Youth at the Red Hook Initiative

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, one of the NYC neighborhoods hit hardest was Red Hook, Brooklyn. Arts & Dreams was fortunate to team up with the Red Hook Initiative, an organization in Red Hook dedicated to empowering local youth to co-create their community, and we visited to share a workshop about empowerment through art.

We talked about healing self-esteem issues and expressing love and appreciation through painting. Local youth and facilitators created their own affirmation paintings with positive words about themselves and their dreams.

Talking nicely to ourselves, in our mind or out loud, can have a big impact. It can return a state of ease into our bodies. After painting, we passed Patricia's silver hand mirror around the room and everyone said something nice to themselves while looking into their own eyes. For some, this was their first time painting, and it was a particular honor for us to introduce that experience. Everyone made incredible work to take home and remind themselves of their worthiness.
Patricia captured these moments beautifully, as always. A big thank you to our volunteers (Mom and daughter) Adriane and Brooke Adler! And a huge virtual hug to Jade Elias and everyone at the Red Hook Initiative for welcoming us into your inspiring organization yesterday! Can't wait to come back.