Martha Aviles and I met at the 1999 LA SCBWI conference and began working together in my ‘CAT’ Agency in 2000. I was delighted by her artwork then, and after sixteen years am still delighted with it! (see on website http://www.catugeau.com ) But this post is about much more than her artwork – it’s about giving back and sharing her love of books and art in a loving way to children who wouldn’t have books, attention or art in their lives perhaps without her!
Tell us Martha about the Sunday Reading Program you have begun and been involved with for kids in the park there in Mexico City. How did this begin and grow for you?
I started to read with kids in December 2014. I made a free reading program for children called “El Semillero”. Every Sunday, I make a route in a Plants’s Market in Mexico City, with a small pull wagon filled with books to read with the kids who work there. Between 20 and 30 children from 2 to 14 years old, wait glad their reading day. We read, but we also play, talk, sing, paint, and we have begun to planing outings to Museums, to concerts, to parks… because these activities enrich not only their reading experience, but aslo their inner world and their perception.
I started this program because I love the books and the children. Also, by a personal need to contribute especially to those children who live in violent or precarious environments and do not have easy access to books.
I understand you just returned from a communications training event. Can you tell us about that? how did you hear of it? why did you decide it’d be helpful to you as an artist and a reader?
I was in intensive “Non Violent Communication” training. This is a program created by Marshall Rosenberg and it was imparted in Mexico for second time. I knew of this program through my meditation teacher.
With NVC we learn to hear our own deeper needs and those of others, through its emphasis on deep listening. It can be seen as both a spiritual practice that help us see our common humanity, using our power in a way that honors everyone’s needs, and a concrete set of skills which help us to create life-serving families and communities.
I took this training because I need to develop skills that help me to promote a empathic communication and sensitive to the needs of each child, and to generate a collective atmosphere of cordiality, not just among children, also among their parents, since some of these children live in unfavorable conditions, exposed to situations of violence and segregation. Although our reading time has established a truce where everyone can participate, all are included, loved and valued, the challenge is still big, and new skills to address it are wellcome.
How has all of this helped or changed your professional and personal artwork?
I’m not sure if this experience has helped or changed my artwork, but I can see many ideas emerging from there… ideas to create stories, objects, toys and workspaces to enrich my reading program, as well as a desire to explore some topics and narratives. Some ideas are in my desk now, and I’m planning the construction of a children’s workshop in the future.
Thank you Martha for sharing your unique artistic journey and adventure! It’s amazing what you have started and what may grow from this loving effort! These photos tell your story so well! you are opening the eyes of so many children and I suspect adults as well. Thank you for that especially….