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  • Identity and Belonging: An Exploration through Visual Art and Creative Writing // with Renu Thomas

Identity and Belonging: An Exploration through Visual Art and Creative Writing // with Renu Thomas

  • 25 October 2023
  • 12 December 2023
  • Online
  • 12


  • Super early bird rate—20% discount! Available through September 30. Regular price is $295.
  • If you're one of her students, check with Renu for your discount code!

Who am I and where do I belong?

Sudden life changes, including war, displacement and forced migration can leave a lasting impact on a person and continue unnoticed through generations. Our emotions, memory and feelings of identity and safety are often anchored to these incidents. Who am I and where do I belong? Why is this knowledge relevant to my life today?

This course aims to address these questions through engagement in a series of visual art and creative writing sessions informed by the facilitator's own journey of self-discovery , transformation and change.

Each week you will be introduced to the style of a visual/literary artist e.g. portraiture, cubism and quilting. We will use their work as a starting point for discussion and reflection.

Over the weeks, relevant to the week’s theme, you will be introduced to inspiring work of visual and literary artists from India, Nigeria, Lebanon and Syria to broaden your understanding of the theme. Your interpretation of their work will inform your response to the week’s creative prompts. The selected artists/authors include (but are not limited to) Rabindranath Tagore, Arundhati Roy, M.F Husain, Chinua Achebe, Amin Maalouf and Majd Kurdieh.

You will be encouraged to explore the use of both creative writing (e.g. poems , stories) and visual art (e.g., photography, collage making, painting, drawing) during the course to expand your perception and use of these forms of creative expression. The interface of artmaking and writing as creative expressive forms encourages the engagement of the whole brain through the sensory, cognitive and motor nature of the activities. This also enables the accessing of memories from the deeper parts of our minds.

Giving our thoughts and feelings a more concrete physical form through both writing and image making provides an opportunity to view and examine them from different perspectives which simultaneously leads to an improved sense of meaning, repair and restoration.

Week by Week

Week 1: A Sense of Wonder- Preparing for the journey

The course begins with self-introductions through a form of portraiture and an acknowledgement of everyone in the group that forms the circle of support over the next weeks.

Week 2: A Sense of Identity- Who am I?

We are many things. Informed by cubism, we deconstruct our life to explore our belongings and allegiances to gain new perspectives on the multiplicity of who we are and how we see ourselves.

Week 3: A Sense of Place- Where do I belong?

Places and objects hold significant memories and can help anchor us and find our roots. We will revisit a place in time to recover and reclaim some of those stories that stamp our cultural identity and explore them through writings and folk art.

Week 4: A Sense of Self- What lies within

The fabric art of quilting as a form of storytelling, can be described as a story in pieces .We take a deeper look at our unique life story, our attachments, gains and losses, the layers and pieces that contribute to our unique construction. Very often it’s the random, scattered moments that seem to scar or embellish our life. Working from inside out, we will gather some of these and examine their role in reconstructing the narrative fabric of our life.

Week 5: A Sense of Purpose- What matters to me?

An improved sense of self fills and energizes our spirit and allows us to look outward and serve from the overflow, connecting us with the world outside. Through a review of some stories of change, impact and survival, we will identify stories and causes that resonate/connect deeply with us and examine why, so as to better understand what we can do about it using our own creative voice.

Week 6: A Sense of Knowing-Who I am.

Final Project combining artmaking and writing to consolidate the insights gained of ourself through the course. We sink our roots in as we create a visual reminder of who we choose to be.

Who Should Take This Class

This course will serve writers and TLA practitioners at all levels of experience, as well as anyone interested in personal and artistic development. No prior experience is required, just a willingness to experiment and explore.


This is an online class, hosted on the online teaching platform, Wet Ink, as well as Zoom. The Wet Ink platform allows students to log in on their own time to post comments and critiques directly to authors’ works. You can also view deadlines, track revisions, and watch video or listen to audio. At the end of the class, each student will receive an email that contains an archive of all their content and interactions. 

The day before class begins, you’ll receive an invitation to join Wet Ink. There are no browser requirements, and Wet Ink is mobile-friendly. If you have any questions about the technical requirements, please email tlan.coordinator@gmail.com.

Students should expect to spend 2-3 hours per week perusing resources and readings, engaging in several writing/creation prompts, and briefly responding to peers’ work. From our interactions, we sustain a welcoming and inspiring community together.

Zoom Meetings - TBD.

About the Facilitator

Renu Sarah Thomas is an Art Psychotherapist (British Association of Art Therapists - BAAT) and workshop facilitator. She has several years of experience in introducing and conducting programmes that promote the personal, social and emotional wellbeing of individuals in Dubai, India and Scotland and adapting these programmes to suit the cultural climate of the region.

​She is a self-taught artist and although Renu finds pottery making and acrylic painting centering and enjoyable, it is through writing that she has found liberation and empowerment. Her growing areas of interest include displacement and trauma and through her spontaneous creative art and creative writing workshops, she passionately encourages people to pursue some form of creative expression, embrace their authentic selves and intentionally find their purpose.

Born in India and raised in England, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, Dubai has been her home for the past 20 years.

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