How does HERStory work?

I pretend to be dumb, but I am actually smart. I can be difficult to reach and have trouble expressing my feelings, but on a piece of paper, I do just fine. – HERStory Alumnus

HERStory encourages girls to tell their stories in order to build community among group members, develop confidence in positive female role models, and encourage girls to examine and evaluate the significant relationships in their lives.

HERStory is broken down into three components: Community Building, Writing Workshops, and Creative Output. Throughout the residency, girls work through each of these components while focusing on six core themes.

The six core themes of HERStory:

The culminating Creative Output component of HERStory provides a public stage for the students’ writing in the form of an and/or presentation and celebration of an art and literary journal. These creative products build the confidence for group members to find their voice and offer a memorable platform to communicate their opinions and ideas in their own words to their world.

So, now that you know how it works, here’s what it looks like.

Sample Exercise: MY REFLECTION Drawing
Create a drawing of yourself that focuses on your internal qualities. This drawing will include your portrait and its reflection. Make the portrait show how you think others see you, and the reflection show how you would like to be seen. The reflection can be in a mirror, a window, a puddle, etc. Use your imagination.
Sample Exercise: MY CREATED FAMILY CREST Drawing
Think about the people that make up your real and/or created family, those people who are closest to you. Consider what they mean to you, and what each represents in your life. Design a coat of arms, crest, logo, or symbol that represents this family. Include symbols and/or words to show what the people in this family mean to you, and how they are connected to you. For the finished project, you may choose to draw the crest or coat of arms large enough to fill the paper and finish it either in color or black and white. Or, you may use your imagination to incorporate the crest or coat of arms into a more detailed drawing. For example: the logo on a baseball cap, the medallion on a necklace, part of the design of a piece of clothing that you are wearing, etc.
Start by drawing a large heart on a piece of construction paper and cutting it out. Use magazines and pictures of your own friends and family. Look for images that represent what you believe a healthy relationship looks like. Fill the heart with these images and/or draw images you draw. You may include words in the collage if you like.
Next, draw or use construction paper to cut out long twisting lengths of paper to create veins and arteries leading to the heart. Think of all the things that feed a healthy relationship and fill those veins with words or symbols to represent them. Example: “trust”, “patience”, “understanding”, “fun”, etc. Instead of using words, you can use symbols to represent your ideas.
When your artwork is finished you will have a cut out heart full of images and words that represent what healthy relationships look like. All around and leading to the heart will be veins filled with words and symbols representing those things that feed and sustain a healthy relationship.
Sample Exercise: DELIVERY FROM AN ANCESTOR Drawing
Imagine that you have a dream in which one of your ancestors visits you and hands you a very large box, quilted bag, trunk, or suitcase. Draw this box, trunk, or suitcase opened up so that you can see what is inside it. In this suitcase are all of the things about your family’s heritage that have most affected who you are. Example: things that represent language, values, customs, etc. What does the container looks like? What materials is it made of? Does it have anything written on it? What is inside? Remember this represents a dream, so let your imagination go wild.
Make a list of 5 things you wish to accomplish in the future.
Create a drawing that represents the inside of your room and that reflects your character and personality. Draw or collage a dream-like world outside the window or through a large hole in the wall or ceiling of the room. In the world outside, create symbols for the five things you wish to accomplish.
Use your imagination in the creation of the room and the world outside. For example, distinguish between the two worlds by playing with colors, juxtaposing black and white with color, or full color with a limited palette; use photos to create the dream world; etc.
The object of the completed drawing is for viewers to get a good idea of who you are and what your dreams are.
Sample Exercise: MY PRINT, MY MARK, MY LEGACY Drawing
Make a list of ten positive things that you bring to this world. For example: laughter, generosity, a good example to your little brother, love, etc.
Look very closely at your thumb or thumb print. Very lightly draw the lines of your finger print filling a full sheet of paper. Use very light lines. Complete the drawing by taking your list of 10 things and using the words as the lines in the thumb print. Your finished drawing will be a large thumb print composed of the things that you believe comprise your mark on the world.
Ethnographic theater is a form of documentary, in which a theme, an event, or an idea is pieced together to reach a wide, inclusive audience, using real words from interviews, writings, statements, quotes, evidence, and facts. All the words spoken in the ethnographic theater production or included in the journal are written by the participants, with the exception of the well-known quotes and poems used in some theme sections.